The Inkatha Freedom Party (IFP) in the KwaZulu-Natal Legislature is shocked and disappointed with the news that the National Prosecuting Authority (NPA) has decided not to prosecute senior officials in the Department of Social Development (DSD). These officials were implicated in the controversial R22 million procurement of blankets and personal protection equipment (PPE).
The IFP demands answers as to why the NPA is not proceeding with prosecutions against implicated officials. The IFP is against this ill-conceived decision. This creates the impression that some people are above the law and that there might be political interference involved.
The implicated officials included the CFO, the acting Head of Department, senior managers, as well as chief directors. These officials cannot be allowed to simply resign or come back to work as though nothing has happened. People benefitted unduly. Millions of Rands in tax-payer’s money – meant to assist and provide protection to the poorest of the poor at the start of the Covid-19 pandemic – were looted through irregular procurement processes.
The forensic report into the irregular procurement found that of the six companies that received contracts for the supply of 12 000 blankets, two companies that quoted approximately R4.8 million have agreed to repay about R1.5 million but we are uncertain as to whether this amount has been repaid. However, two other companies, with quotes of approximately R6 million each, have not agreed to repay anything.
The IFP contends that the latter two companies are being protected, as they should also be repaying the Department for these heavily inflated quotes.
During many Portfolio Committee meetings, MEC Nonhlanhla Khoza assured Members that those responsible for looting would be brought to book.
The MEC must now make good on her commitment and insist that the NPA prosecute all implicated officials. What is the point of instituting a forensic investigation if the findings are not implemented? The companies and officials alleged to have benefitted must be prosecuted to send a clear message to others who might have similar intentions.
The KZN Premier, Sihle Zikalala, was quick to institute a forensic investigation. A report revealing the wilful flouting of procurement processes was completed in June 2020, and highlighted gross contraventions of the PFMA, supply chain processes and Treasury Regulations. Officials stand accused of ignoring regulations that they are legally obliged to follow. The Premier must show that he was serious in his commitment to clean governance and to rooting out corruption in his administration. He must step up and insist that those senior officials face the full might of the law. He must demand answers from the NPA as to why it has decided not to prosecute the officials and issue a nolle prosequi, which, in effect, can see guilty persons walking free.
The IFP demands that the NPA rescind this decision and pursue this matter, without fear or favour. The IFP will not rest until all those implicated in the controversial and irregular R22 million procurement of blankets and PPE are held accountable.
Hon. Les Govender, MPL
IFP KZN Provincial Spokesperson for Social Development
083 974 4894