Sat, 19 Sep 2020

OPINION | Bribery and corruption: The other threat that could detroy SA's small businesses

Cosatu wants PPE procurement to be centralised, under the National Treasury, which will then coordinate procurement and related supply chains. "This is not because we love National Treasury or think they would not make any mistakes. It is because by limiting procurement to one entity, it would be easier to spot mistakes and try to quickly correct them," the report read.

The Southern African Clothing and Textile Workers Union, a Cosatu affiliate, has been tracking tender processes, and have found only a few departments advertise. "It showed us early on that most contracting was probably not happening through open tender processes," said Cosatu.

Provincial treasuries, health and education departments were written to, to enquire about their tender processes - departments in KwaZulu-Natal, Gauteng and thee Eastern Cape were not immediately forthcoming with information. The unwillingness of departments to share information has been a barrier for monitoring of tenders awarded, Cosatu pointed out.

Warning sign

Suppliers have also been silent on requests for information, according to Cosatu. "Where we have found contact information, many suppliers practice radio silence and have ignored our requests for details on the origins of their products. We interpret this as a warning sign," it said.

Cosatu has also claimed that middlemen have been marking up PPE between 100% and 300% or are supplying poor quality products. "If suppliers cannot be quickly identified or traced by the market or key interest groups, it makes it easier to de-fraud the system."

Among Cosatu's recommendations to improve the system are:

Centralising procurment under Treasury.Contracts to be ring-fenced for local compliant manufacturers.Government should pass regulation compelling state entities and departments to electronically publish details of PPE contracts awarded.All political exposed persons should be banned from doing business with the State National Treasury to finalise the Procurement Bill within a month so that it can be passed by parliament by April next year.Investigations and prosecutions for tender corruption must follow.

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