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‘Fusion centre’, committees and audits promised in...

South Africa

CORONAVIRUS DAILY DIGEST #118

‘Fusion centre’, committees and audits promised in the clean-up of Covid-19 corruption

On Friday, national and provincial government outlined how it would tackle Covid-19-related corruption. KwaZulu-Natal is preparing for a surge in Covid-19 cases but there are concerns that a seemingly incompetent health department might not be up to the task. A new survey has revealed the initial impact the pandemic has had on South Africa’s healthcare workers.  

 

Scroll through the gallery below to view the latest Covid-19 numbers available on 7 August at the district level. All maps are sourced from provincial health departments. Limpopo did not provide an update by the time of publishing:

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Next week, the State Security Agency will begin auditing the lifestyles of Gauteng Premier David Makhura and his 10 MECs. Makhura announced this during a press briefing on Friday as the province’s top brass continued to face allegations of Covid-19-related corruption. Makhura has been promising to introduce these audits for years. Now they’ll be done within the next six to eight weeks.

Makhura admitted that the allegations have “severely eroded the standing of our provincial government”. He said Special Investigating Unit (SIU) investigations into procurement deals had already led to two senior department of health officials being identified as facilitators of corruption. One official was a former chief financial officer and the other the current chief director of supply chain management. Charges have been laid against the former and the latter has been suspended. As Greg Nicolson writes, Makhura said the time had come to “send people to jail”.

The SIU has apparently laid criminal charges against three companies linked to corruption in Gauteng, according to EWN news agency.

Meanwhile, the province has seen a continued decline in numbers of Covid-19 cases and hospital admissions in recent weeks. Makhura warned it was too soon to say the province’s peak had passed.

A “fusion centre” will be set up to deal with Covid-19-related corruption, according to Justice Minister Ronald Lamola. This news came as President Cyril Ramaphosa announced the creation of a committee of ministers to assess government’s procurement of all goods and services related to Covid-19 and Treasury’s announcement that the auditor-general will increase audits of government spending. Lamola said the new centre might become a permanent agency to deal with cases of “white-collar crime, organised crime and corruption”. The centre will pull together the following existing institutions:

 

  •     The Financial Intelligence Centre
  •     The Independent Police Investigative Directorate
  •     The National Prosecuting Authority
  •     The Directorate for Priority Crime Investigation (the Hawks)
  •     The Special Investigating Unit (SIU) 
  •     The State Security Agency
  •     The South African Revenue Service 

 

However, as Carien Du Plessis writes, this centre is not yet situated in law to determine a clear line of command.

Stalwarts and veterans of the ANC have written an open letter voicing support for this new centre, while at the same time saying “revulsion” felt at the looting is “wholly justified”.

Health Minister Zweli Mkhize has spent the past two days in KwaZulu-Natal to assess the province’s preparations for an anticipated surge in Covid-19 infections in the next few weeks. He said the province already had more infections than the Western Cape had during its peak and that the country’s focus must turn to the province. KwaZulu-Natal’s department of health has suffered decades of mismanagement, corruption, fraud and incompetence – leaving little confidence that it is prepared to handle the incoming storm, writes Des Erasmus.

The Human Sciences Research Council has released some of the first data on how Covid-19 has affected healthcare workers. Based on the findings, the council recommends more training be done and highlights a dire need for more personal protective equipment. Shani Reddy unpacks the report. DM/MC

 

Gallery

"Information pertaining to Covid-19, vaccines, how to control the spread of the virus and potential treatments is ever-changing. Under the South African Disaster Management Act Regulation 11(5)(c) it is prohibited to publish information through any medium with the intention to deceive people on government measures to address COVID-19. We are therefore disabling the comment section on this article in order to protect both the commenting member and ourselves from potential liability. Should you have additional information that you think we should know, please email [email protected]"

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