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Premier Zikalala releases details of owners and directors of KZN Covid-19 suppliers

Premier Zikalala releases details of owners and directors of KZN Covid-19 suppliers
KZN premier, Sihle Zikalala and finance MEC, Ravi Pillay at the release on Thursday of the follow-up report into the province's Covid-19 spend. (Photo: Des Erasmus)

Stressing that the KwaZulu-Natal government had ‘not been pushed’ to do so, Premier Sihle Zikalala, who has displayed gusto in getting in front of the Covid-19 looting scandal that has engulfed nearly every province in the country, on Thursday released the details of company owners who received contracts from the province to supply equipment or services as part of the Covid-19 response.

The 16-page report — which included ID numbers — was a “follow-up” to the KZN Covid-19 Procurement Disclosure Report released on 13 August, he told a handful of journalists at a press briefing in Durban. 

The province had spent R2,108,124,944.28 on its Covid-19 response and management by 28 August, Zikalala said.

KZN Premier releases tender report to get ahead of scandal

 

In a week dominated by the question of race as the Democratic Alliance announced it had chosen to move away from using race or gender as a determining factor in its economic policies, Zikalala broke down the province’s Covid-19 expenditure suppliers by race, gender and those that were youth-owned.

According to the report, Black-owned companies accounted for 38.43% (R810,226,863.37) of the Covid-19 spend.

Indian-owned companies accounted for 29.52% (R622,257,433.22).

The report said 26.95% was spent “on service providers which appear on the Central Supplier Database as being owned by companies whose details were not immediately available”. Many of these were well established, said Zikalala. Others were “well-known institutions” such as the SABC and “Independent Newspapers”.

White-owned companies accounted for 1.80% (R37,920,307.86) of the spend; coloured-owned companies for 0.51% (R10,802,091.29) and Asian-owned companies for 0.46% (R9,778,600.20).

Companies with mixed racial profiles accounted for 1.49% (R31,362,118.74). Companies with no ownership details registered on the Central Supplier Database accounted for 0.84% (R17 701 937.02).

The report said 33% of the total spend went to suppliers that have 50% or more women ownership. Fifteen percent was spent on companies with 50% or more youth ownership.

Those expecting a “name and shame” report are sure to be disappointed with Zikalala’s latest release, vaunted as increasing transparency in the province.

The premier did not mention any companies being investigated by his office, or provincial treasury, or any provincial departments, into possible irregularities into the spend — which included supplying PPE equipment and doing construction works, such as hospital upgrades.

However, the SIU has previously confirmed with Daily Maverick that it is investigating provincial education department PPE contracts valued at R492.6-million. It is also probing the procurement of blankets in the KZN department of social development (DSD) valued at R22.4-million, and another 18 contracts in DSD for the procurement of PPE, valued at R21.2-million.

Zikalala did not mention these.

He did, however, provide some titbits: Four companies could not be found on the Central Supply Database — Bellanova (R3,875,000.00), Contichem Stanger (awarded R2,520), Dr Mohamed (R720) and Dischem (R480).

As the KZN finance MEC Ravi Pillay explained at the briefing, in the case of Dischem, it was probably a petty cash purchase, while Dr Mohamed could have been a doctor’s visit.

Three companies had been identified as being registered in March, according to the report — Aramaya (R82,380), Khanyisele Agency (R1.7-million) and Ntandoyenkosi Holdings (R67,448), and were being investigated.

Zikalala said he did not want to “mention the companies (say their names)”, even though they are listed in the reports.

Both he and Pillay played it cautiously, saying they did not want to “pre-empt” or make accusations against those listed. Pillay called the report “part of a first stage of a transparency exercise”.  

Zikalala said his office was thus far unable to provide the same detail for municipalities as it had for provincial contracts. This was because “the reporting format and the IT systems applicable are different”. It was a work in progress, he added.

KZN’s municipalities incurred R925,271,000 in Covid-19 expenditure.

Zikalala said if anything was found to be  “untoward” in the awarding of any of the contracts, the province would “not hesitate to act decisively”.

Pillay took issue with Daily Maverick asking Zikalala about previous reports on corruption — the Ngubane and Manase reports — that had fallen by the wayside, and what commitments there would be to ensure that this did not happen with the Covid-19 reports.

The Ngubane and Manase reports were both based on investigations in the province’s only metro — eThekwini.

While these would not strictly be within the purview of the premier’s office, Zikalala knows about them, and, as part of ANC provincial leadership for years, would have had input on any action into cadres implicated therein.

Pillay encouraged Daily Maverick to “be fair” and “reasonable” with its questions, and focus on the “particular” report being presented. Pillay said it was the responsibility of the Cogta MEC to answer questions on the older reports, but said there “have been steps taken there”.

In 2017, this journalist asked then new eThekwini mayor Zandile Gumede if she would, in the interests of transparency, consider reviving and taking action on the recommendations made in the 7,050-page Manase report.

The report revealed serious allegations of fraud and corruption within the city that included illegal staff appointments, fraud within the metro police, irregularities in supply chain management, non-disclosure by councillors and officials of their business interests, abuse of overtime and expense claims, the abuse of bylaws to push through emergency tenders, and irregularities in the planning office.

Gumede said it was not part of what she wanted to leave as her “legacy”, that the report was “long gone” and that she wanted to start her administration afresh. The now former mayor and MPL appeared at the Durban Commercial Crimes Court on Thursday in her ongoing graft case.

Zandile Gumede graft case postponed to accommodate 350,000-page audit report

South Africa’s Covid expenditure has come under scrutiny in all provinces since it was revealed that politically connected suppliers — and those with no experience in sourcing or supplying PPE and other necessities — had been awarded multimillion-rand contracts to do just that, and in many instances had failed. DM

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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