AG releases first special report into procurement corruption

The new Auditor-General, Tsakani Maluleke, is expected to update us today, on the audit of Covid-19 relief funds. Her predecessor had previously shared that there was a lack of control over the government relief.

PRETORIA - South Africa's auditor-general on Wednesday said a multi-billion-dollar coronavirus relief package had been marred by "irregularities" as well as possible fraud.

In her maiden report, Auditor-General Tsakani Maluleke flawed procurement processes and contract management in the R148-billion initiative, set up to provide healthcare and social and economic relief.

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The report's conclusions reinforced the findings of an initial audit, published in September, into how the money was spent.

"The first special report highlighted irregularities, poor controls and systems, and indicators of potential fraud. Our latest report does the same," it said.

It noted problems in following competitive processes for awarding government contracts for buying personal protective equipment (PPE) -- masks, goggles and gowns used by frontline health workers.

It also raised questions about the tax status of bidders and said some suppliers delivered PPE that did not meet specifications. 

READ: PPE corruption: Ramaphosa says funds will be recovered

Maluleke, speaking to the press in the capital Pretoria, recommended that such contracts be investigated, "as such circumstances can be a red flag for fraud or abuse of the supply chain management process."

The spending package is under close scrutiny in a country where corruption has become a searing political issue.

Of the R148.06 billion earmarked for the package, R95.84 billion had been spent by 30 September.

Since the first audit was released in September, some R3.4 billion that had been disbursed incorrectly has since been recovered, Maluleke said.

Maluleke served as deputy auditor general from 2014 and moved to the top job on 1 December, succeeding Kimi Makwetu who died last month from illness.

South Africa is Africa's worst-hit nation for COVID-19, notching up over 820,000 confirmed infections.


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