Johannesburg – Auditor-General Kimi Makwetu has described some of the findings on the irregularity of Covid-19-related procurement as frightening as he tabled his report on the procurements made by the government since March.
Covid-19 procurement has been marred by allegations of massive looting relating to tender corruption and the inflation of prices for personal protective equipment (PPE).
Makwetu said his office had tracked the use of the appropriated R145 billion, of the total R500 billion, which was directed for relief purposes for the pandemic.
“A lot of the effort that we put into this on the detection side of things has revealed a number of frightening findings that require to be followed up very quickly so that there is no significant passage of time before the required actions are implemented,” Makwetu said.
He said a comparison of government databases has uncovered a litany of potentially fraudulent activities due to the abuse of supply chain systems.
“An opportunity for fraudulent behaviour arises when the disciplines of internal control have been weakened. In this case that is what we have observed,” he said.
The funds were split into different expenditures intended for Covid-19 social and economic relief.
“It is split into the R40.9 billion set aside to support vulnerable households. It is that R40.9 billion that has three elements to it. The one element was for food parcels right at the beginning of the Covid-19 lockdown.
“Another component of it was the budget for the social relief distress grant of R350. Another component is with respect to what is called the top-up grant of R500 and R25,” Makwetu said.
Another R21.54 billion was earmarked for health-related purchases while R20 billion was set aside for support to municipalities.
Basic and higher education received R12.5 billion while R6.06 billion was directed to small and informal business and for job protection and creation purposes.
Makwetu said the work of his office was about tracking how the funds were disbursed.
He added that his office had immediately warned accounting officers in the government and advised them to gear up their supply chain preventative controls right from the beginning of the pandemic and the declaration of the State of Disaster.