South Africa president Cyril Ramaphosa has ordered investigators to look into “serious irregularities in relation to procurement” at a number of public bodies.
Included among the targets are a number of bodies named in the Public Protector’s 2017 report into spending surrounding the funeral of former president Nelson Mandela in the Eastern Cape in 2013.
Among her findings Public Protector Busisiwe Mkhwebane said R300m, earmarked for infrastructure improvement, had been diverted from the Eastern Cape Development Corporation (ECDC) to fund the funeral, on the recommendation of the Department of Provincial Planning and Treasury (DPPT).
Ramaphosa has signed proclamations authorising the Special Investigation Unit to investigate “serious irregularities in relation to procurement of goods and/or services in a manner that was not fair, competitive, transparent, equitable or cost-effective” at a number of organisations including “various Eastern Cape provincial institutions”, among them the DPPT and the ECDC.
Mkhwebane’s scathing report found R250,000 had been “irregularly transferred” into a personal bank account by the DPPT and there had been “irregular and fruitless and wasteful expenditure of public funds for the memorial services and funeral of president Mandela”. One company was paid R5.99m out of public funds to transport mourners to four venues.
The report said there was no operational centre where daily meetings were held and “accordingly the related expenditure was not budgeted for, resulting in the taking what was regarded as emergency measures”.
“This weakness was explored and capitalised upon by some service providers that took advantage of the situation and inflated prices,” said the report.
“Some submitted invoices and were paid for goods and services, the delivery of which was not or could not be verified. For an example the costs for tee-shirts were inflated and it could not be verified whether they were actually delivered and where. The number of people that were transported to public mourning venues and memorial services could also not be verified.
“In some instances there appeared to have been improper collusion between officials and service providers at the expense of the organs of state involved.
“Some of the service providers used were not on the list of registered suppliers (supplier database) and seemed to have appeared from nowhere.”
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