Auditor General’s report finds Limpopo transgressed PPE procurement regulations

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The Auditor General’s nationwide report on COVID-19 has highlighted several transgressions against procurement regulations by the Limpopo Health Department. These include possible conflict of interest between some contractors and the department’s employees, which the report fears could have resulted in preferential treatment of the suppliers.

The report also highlighted that some companies did not meet the required tax compliance status, as well as some not being properly registered on the database of government suppliers.

Two out of more than 116 companies that the Limpopo Health Department contracted to supply Personal Protective Equipment (PPE) have been flagged for further assessment by the office of the Auditor-General.

They are part of 21 companies nationwide flagged for such in the Auditor General’s 172-page report, titled “First Special Report on the financial management of government’s COVID-19 initiatives.”

Transgressions 

Some of the issues highlighted by the report include that the province was charged prices that exceeded the National Treasury’s COVID-19 PPE price threshold. The report also states that there is a possible conflict of interest between some suppliers and some departmental employees.

According to the report, some of the suppliers had no proven track record, while others were not listed on National Treasury’s Central Supplier Database. Moreover, the AG’s report found that some suppliers were paid without proof of delivery of the goods procured, while in some cases the quality of goods and services supplied did not meet the required standards.

There were also some suppliers who received duplicate payments as well as suppliers whose tax matters had not been declared by the South African Revenue Service. The Limpopo Health Department could not be reached for comment.

SIU investigations

Meanwhile, the provincial legislature’s portfolio committee on health says it is satisfied with the information it received from the Limpopo Health Department about PPE procurement contracts. The committee earlier summoned MEC Phophi Ramathuba and her management team to appear before members.

This followed a public outcry over alleged corruption in the awarding of over R630 million PPE contracts. There were allegations that the contracts were awarded to people linked to some senior officials from the provincial Health Department.

Ramathuba has refused to comment on the allegations: 

Committee Chairperson Joshua Matlou says they are awaiting the Special Investigative Unit’s investigations into the contracts.

“We summoned the MEC Dr. Ramathuba together with the entire management of the department and the full-fleshed report was given in relation to the PPEs, the expenditure of the department, which spent around R400 million because around  R166 million is spent for other departments and as a portfolio committee, we are  awaiting the investigation of the SIU because, at the moment, we treat the matter as a matter that we can’t comment on for now.”

The Auditor-General is expected to release another special report on COVID-19 procurement next month.

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