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Parliament Briefed on COVID-19 PPE Procurement Investigations

February 15, 2021

Special Investigating Unit

The Special Investigating Unit (SIU) has briefed parliament on Covid-19 personal protective equipment-related procurement investigations.

The SIU was tasked with investigating any unlawful or improper conduct in the procurement of any goods, works and services during or related to the Covid-19 national state of disaster in any state institution last year.

Proclamation 23 called on the SIU to investigate the procurement of, or contracting for, goods, works and services, including the construction, refurbishment, leasing, occupation and use of immovable property, during, or in respect of the national state of disaster by or on behalf of the state institutions, and payments made in respect thereof in a manner that was:

• not fair, competitive, transparent, equitable or cost-effective;
• contrary to applicable legislation, manuals, guidelines, practice notes, circulars or instructions;
• conducted by or facilitated through the improper or unlawful conduct of employees or officials of the state institutions; or any other person or entity, to corruptly or unduly benefit themselves or any other person; or
• fraudulent.

The SIU was also tasked with investigating any related unauthorised, irregular or fruitless and wasteful expenditure incurred by the state institutions or the state.

The SIU was also to focus on any “improper or unlawful conduct by the officials or employees of the State institutions or any other person or entity, in relation to the allegations set out in paragraph 1 of this Schedule, including the causes of such improper or unlawful conduct and any loss, damage or actual or potential prejudice suffered by the State institutions or the State”.

Earlier this month, the SIU released the report of finalised investigations and outcomes of investigations into PPE procurement by state institutions.
In the briefing, the SIU pointed out that, while the investigations are still underway and reports continue to be submitted to the President, “we continue to execute on the outcomes and follow up on the referrals to ensure that there is consequence management”.

Attention is focused on ensuring that there is accountability at all levels of the administration including executive authority accountability.

The SIU declared that collaboration and cooperation with other agencies in the Fusion Centre has proved valuable.

According to the SIU, the National Prosecuting Authority has provided prosecutors to guide criminal investigations and will prioritize consideration of the matters at hand.

“We will take all steps necessary to ensure that losses suffered due to irregularities, corruption and maladministration are recovered and returned to the state.”

In a statement, the standing committee on public accounts declared that a “number of issues emanating from the report require Scopa’s urgent attention and the committee has resolved to prioritise these matters”.