Statement: Press Briefing on Corruption in KZN

Hon. VF Hlabisa (MPL) –
Leader of the Official Opposition in KZN and President of the IFP

Wednesday, 22 July 2020

After the news of allegations of irregularities in the procurement of 48 000 blankets by the KZN Department of Social Development and the perceived collusion of the department officials with the suppliers in April this year surfaced, the IFP Member of the Provincial Legislature, Hon. Les Govender filed a parliamentary question to the Department in this regard on 11 April 2020.

Amongst other things, the question asked:

• Whether the Department had indeed procured 48 000 blankets;
• What amount of money was spent on procurement;
• The unit price paid per blanket;
• Details of the service providers tasked with the delivery;
• Whether any of the service providers were linked in any way to any of the departmental officials;
• Names of officials involved in the procurement;
• What informed the need for these blankets.

Subsequent to this, the provincial government of KwaZulu-Natal set up an investigation into this matter. The findings of this investigation were released by the Premier of KwaZulu-Natal yesterday. The Inkatha Freedom Party in KwaZulu-Natal feels vindicated by the findings of this forensic investigation. From the onset, the IFP was adamant that there was a blatant disregard for procurement processes in the procurement of these blankets, as well as PPE, by the department of Social Development.

The Report clearly states that a needs analysis was not done to justify the spending of over R22 million on blankets and reveals there was a financial loss of over R15.8 million. Four service providers were appointed, two of which operated from their homes. However, we were not told who these service providers are, and whether they are related or linked in any way to any of the officials. The Report reveals that supply-chain processes were flouted, in that orders were issued and paid for before delivery of items. It reveals that only 4 982 blankets have been distributed thus far – out of 48 000 blankets procured – and over 43 000 blankets are allegedly in unsafe storage somewhere.

With regard to the supply of PPE, the Department incurred irregular expenditure of over R13.6 million and could have saved R2.2 million if officials had been diligent. The Report exposes mismanagement by the officials, who had total disregard for due process and acceptable procedure of government procurement processes. In the midst of all this, the Report indicates that there could be possibilities of collusion between officials and service-providers, which might have further led to the lining of pockets, at the expense of the citizens of our province.

All this indicates serious activities of fraud and corruption in the province.

In respect of the Department of Education, the statement by the Premier suggests that everything was above board. As the IFP in KwaZulu Natal, we still have unanswered questions on behalf of the people of this province for the Department of Education, in respect of how the water (Jojo) tanks that were supplied to schools were procured and delivered.

After the news surfaced in social media claiming that the Department of Education in KwaZulu-Natal had purchased tanks to the value of R170 000 each, the Department issued a statement on Thursday 18 July 2020, refuting this as misinformation. The Department stated that they had actually spent R28 000 per 5 000L water tank and R6 500 per hand-washing station, using Rand Water as the service provider. The next day, on Friday 19 June 2020, Rand Water issued a statement refuting the R28 000 cost. Rand Water said that the cost of a 5 000L tank ranged between R4 500 and R5 400. That the cost of a 10 000L tank ranged between R9 000 and R10 000.

The IFP Member of the Provincial Legislature, Hon. Mntomuhle Khawula, filed questions for the Department to clarify the price paid for each water tank, who the service providers were and what the total cost to the Department was for these materials. The Department responded but refused to divulge the required information.

The IFP remains concerned that the Premier has said nothing about the Executive Political Head of the Department of Social Development, under whose watch all these missteps took place. To us, the Report points to serious dereliction of duty by the Political Head. In order to give effect to the IFP’s commitment and promise to the people of KwaZulu-Natal – that we will be their voice, mouthpiece and ears regarding the use of their taxes and the financial resources in this province – as the Official Opposition Party in this province, we give the Premier, Sihle Zikalala, seven days to hand the Report over to the police and have a criminal case opened.

If the Premier of KwaZulu-Natal does not hand over the forensic report to the police within seven calendar days, the IFP will officially open a criminal case against the officials and/or service providers involved in this saga so that the justice system of the country can deal with the culprits.

We know the disciplinary matters against government officials in this province only end up being a slap on the wrist for the wrongdoers. Some of them even decide to cleverly jump ship before matters of discipline are concluded, but then you again see them resurfacing elsewhere in government circles in a matter of weeks. The time for leniency for people who illegally help themselves to the coffers of the province is over. We want all the culprits to face the full force of justice in a real court of law.

Velenkosini Hlabisa, MPL
Leader of the Official Opposition in KZN and President of the IFP
083 974 5783

Nonhlanhla Jele
IFP KZN Legislature Media Officer
078 197 4234