Concerns over corruption in vaccines’ procurement

 

Daar is groot huiwering en biljoene rande wat van ons beroof word en dit gaan steeds voort, sonder dat daar rekenskap gegee word van enige owerhede.    Nie eers ‘n jaar nie, en daar is biljoene rande eenvoudig gesteel.   Daar is geen versekering dat dit gaan stop nie.   Intussen verloor burgers hul werk en raak al hoe meer afhanklik van hulptoelaes wat so min is of selfs skaars is.  Swart bemagtiging speel steeds volgens die ANC ‘n groot rol om slegs sekeres te bevoordeel uit die “skenkings” op alle vlakke van gemeenskappe.    Inperking het op 26 Maart 2020 in werking getree en sou aanvanklik vir 21 dae gewees het.  

Several organisations have expressed concern over the possibility of corruption in the procurement and distribution of Covid-19 vaccines when they become available to the country. Picture: Craig F. Walker/Pool via REUTERS


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RACISM AND DISCRIMINATION UNDER LOCKDOWN

Background information 2020

21 April 2020 – Ramaphosa (CVirus)

Cuban health specialists – 28 April 2020

Corruption – ANC regime – Covid-19

Corruption under ANC sky high – Korrupsie hemelhoog onder ANC

Whites in poverty – Covit lockdown – BOYF – Tess Riekert

Corona – Food parcels to Blacks only

“Not apartheid again” after 26 years (under virus cover)

Covid-19 – SMEs

Small Business Development – B-BBEE and support

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VARIOUS DONATIONS RECEIVED – SOLIDARITY FUND

https://www.engineeringnews.co.za/article/solidarity-fund-marks-progress-2020-10-22

https://www.capetalk.co.za/articles/379539/mary-oppenheimer-and-daughters-donate-r1-billion-to-solidarity-fund

https://www.news24.com/news24/SouthAfrica/News/more-than-r2-billion-donated-to-the-solidarity-fund-in-two-weeks-20200405

https://www.bloomberg.com/news/articles/2020-04-23/south-africa-virus-fund-has-received-2-6-billion-rand-in-pledges

https://www.africanews.com/2020/05/13/the-elma-group-of-foundations-commits-zar-2-billion-to-covid-19-response-in-africa//

https://safika.co.za/media/solidarity-fund-eff-tops-10-highest-payroll-giving-donors/

https://www.sanlam.co.za/mediacentre/media-category/media-releases/R1%20Billion%20to%20Assist%20SA%20with%20COVID-19%20Crisis

https://www.thesouthafrican.com/news/finance/lockdown-what-is-solidarity-fund-johann-rupert-nicky-oppenheimer-net-worth-how-much-donate-coronavirus/

https://www.naspers.com/news/naspers-commits-zar-1,5-billion-to-south-africa%E2%80%99s

https://www.miningreview.com/health-and-safety/businesses-and-individuals-pledge-r2-2-billion-for-covid-19-cause/


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Under investigation:
https://www.dailymaverick.co.za/article/2020-08-20-solidarity-funds-spending-under-scrutiny-siu-investigates-billions-in-tenders-and-the-tourism-industry-plans-its-reboot/

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THE FOLLOWING WAS STATED IN DECEMBER 2020


“In order to secure enough doses to vaccinate 10% of our population, we will be required to make a down payment of R327,118,080, of which the Solidarity Fund has generously agreed to make this initial contribution. 

December 04 2020 – 17:12

SIU received 20 complaints relating to health sector corruption

The Special Investigating Unit (SIU) says it has dealt with 20 allegations of serious maladministration, fraud and corruption relating to the heath sector.   The Health Sector Anti-Corruption Forum (HSACF), which received the complaints, said 13 of the allegations have been assessed and formally converted into investigations.    “In addition, four allegations of maladministration, fraud and corruption in the public health sector have been assessed by the forum and the SIU has submitted motivations for proclamations in respect of these matters to the presidency for their approval.   

December 04 2020 – 15:50

We did not miss Covid-19 vaccine payment deadline: Tito Mboweni

Finance minister Tito Mboweni says SA has not missed the deadline to pay the R500m required for it to be part of the COVAX global Covid-19 vaccine distribution scheme.

https://www.timeslive.co.za/news/south-africa/2020-12-04-covid-19-live-updates-da-not-happy-with-liquor-restrictions-and-curfews/

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The Solidarity Fund says it will be making a R327 million down payment toward a COVID-19 vaccine as early as next week.  The Deputy Chairperson of the Fund, Adriaan Enthoven, says the pre-payment will help to secure a vaccine for 10% of the South African population.

https://www.sabcnews.com/sabcnews/solidarity-fund-to-make-payment-for-covid-19-vaccine-next-week/

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Several organisations have expressed concern over the possibility of corruption in the procurement and distribution of Covid-19 vaccines when they become available to the country.     The head of the NGO African Alliance and founding member of the Vaccine Advocacy Council, Tian Johnson, said the pandemic of corruption and mismanagement within the public health sector would manifest the same way in the context of Covid-19 vaccines as it has in the past with a range of public health-care issues.

Johnson said all cases of theft, whether it be Covid-19 vaccines, therapeutics or supplies should be investigated, prosecuted and seen through to conviction, to set a public example of accountability.     Chief executive of the Organisation Undoing Tax Abuse (OUTA) Wayne Duvenage said if the government’s track record in managing big, complex matters of this nature was anything to go by, “we do believe there will be corruption and maladministration”.     Government’s recent personal protective equipment (PPE) procurement was a classic example of a critical project that was fraught with corruption, and that was discovered too late, resulting in much of the funds being lost.     “The price that SA is paying for vaccines smacks of corruption at the highest level, and if the government is to gain the trust of the people, we need clear answers to these questions on pricing, who will be policing accessibility to the vaccine, the police, the army? If it is the SA police and the army being used for security, the trust levels here are low and we expect breaches,” said Duvenage.     

Frans Cronjee of IRRSA (Institute of Race Relations) is of the opinion that the scope for corruption around procurement was limited – especially where vaccines were purchased directly from reputable firms in Europe and North America.   He said while their concerns regarding corruption were limited, they were extremely concerned at the delays in placing orders and making vaccines available to South Africans, and the organisation would resort to the courts to press for such delivery should accelerated progress not become evident.

In a bid to avoid the levels of corruption that erupted in the procurement of PPEs, a non-profit organisation working to fight corruption, Corruption Watch (CW), said it had laid out a number of questions to the National Treasury on crucial aspects of emergency procurement that were enabled under the National State of Disaster.    CW said the areas of primary concern were the urgency in saving lives through administration of the vaccine, and the public finance and governance aspects that allowed for transparency and public disclosure.   CW’s executive director, David Lewis, said the questions posed related not only to transparency in procurement, but also to issues of oversight, transport, storage and distribution of vaccines in possibly the largest public health roll-out in the country’s history.

https://www.iol.co.za/capeargus/news/concerns-over-corruption-in-vaccines-procurement-0c1b5730-82f2-447e-a8fa-9fd28376de4d

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September 2020

At the beginning of September the Auditor-General of South Africa (AGSA) released its first special report on the management of funds set aside for government’s Covid-19 response. The fiscal relief package was funded reprioritising the 2020-21 budgets and by securing loans.     Although, regrettably, the nation fully expected gross misuse and irregularities, the sheer scale of the greed, callousness, and corruption was still a shock. The audit, undertaken in real-time, covered 16 of the key Covid-19 initiatives introduced by government and the management of R147-billion of the funds made available.   

Some of the outrageous findings included:

  • UIF payments to Individuals below the legal age of employment of 15 years – a total of R224 677 was paid for 53 applications;
  • A claim of R4 027 was paid to an individual who has the same identity number as a UIF employee;
  • Individuals who were deceased according to the Home Affairs database received TERS benefits totalling R441 144;
  • A total amount of R169 900 was paid to individuals who were in prison according to the Department of Correctional Services database;
  • A total of 4 161 payments amounting to R30-million was made to individuals with invalid identity numbers when checked against the Department of Home Affairs database;
  • The UIF paid R141-million to 35 043 applicants who received benefits from other state institutions (including remuneration in some instances);
  • Four applicants with the same banking details as UIF employees were paid R14 614;
  • Twelve individuals who shared the same banking details were paid R53 971.

https://www.corruptionwatch.org.za/covid-millions-lost-to-greed-carelessness-and-mismanagement/

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A U D I T   REPORTS

PRETORIA – Auditor-General (AG) Tsakani Maluleke today reported significant deficiencies in the procurement and contract management processes of the relief package government redirected in response to the covid-19, but applauded government’s ongoing efforts in fighting the pandemic.
https://www.agsa.co.za/Reporting/SpecialAuditReports/COVID-19AuditReport2.aspx


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REPORT SEPTEMBER 2020

After the outbreak of the novel coronavirus in South Africa, the government announced a R500 billion package for the health response and the relief of social and economic distress caused by the drastic measures that had to be taken to contain the spread of the virus. The fiscal relief package is funded by reprioritising the 2020-21 budgets and securing loans.

On request of the president, Cyril Ramaphosa, Makwetu’s office has undertaken a realtime audit of 16 of the key Covid-19 initiatives introduced by the government and the management of R147,4 billion of the funds made available for these initiatives.
This report represents the first in a series of reports that will deal with the financial
management of the government’s Covid-19 initiatives, covering R68,9 billion (47%) of the R147,4 billion spending. The audit work per this report is for all expenditure up to and including 31 July 2020.


Outcomes of the audit process until the end of July 2020

By 31 July, the Unemployment Insurance Fund (UIF) had paid just over R37 billion in TERS benefits and the South African Social Security Agency (Sassa) had paid R19,6 billion in social grants. 

The Department of Small Business Development aims to implement 10 initiatives to the value of R1,8 billion to support small, micro and medium enterprises to remain in business during the pandemic.    In total, R145 million had been disbursed up to 15 July and no concerns have been identified at this stage of the audit. 

The uptake on the spaza shop support scheme has been below the department’s expectations – only 1 697 owners had received the grant (in total R5,9 million) by 30 June, against a budget of R175 million. A control weakness in the approval process was identified, which the department is attending to.   

The Department of Agriculture, Land Reform and Rural Development implemented a relief scheme for financially distressed small-scale farmers in the form of vouchers for production input. By 22 July, 14 589 applications for vouchers had been approved with a value of R517 million and 13 662 had already been distributed. 

A tourism relief fund of R200 million was made available by the Department of Tourism to support qualifying small, micro and medium enterprises in the tourism and hospitality sector. In total, 4 000 applications had been approved to each receive a R50 000 relief payment.  By 31 July, 3 994 applicants had been paid. So far, the audit focused on the identification of risks and controls in the application process.   

The Department of Sports, Arts and Culture established a R235 million relief fund to assist artists, athletes and technical personnel affected by cancellations of sport and art events and to fund digital solutions.   The progress of distributing the funds has been slow with large numbers of the applications rejected originally and now being re-evaluated. By 3 July, only R39 million was paid out. 

The Industrial Development Corporation ring-fenced R2,5 billion in funds to provide as loans to their clients and other businesses operating in sectors within its mandate.   The audit team determined that specific criteria for the provision of the loans were established and sufficient preventative controls were in place.   By 15 July, no loans in respect of debt relief had been approved yet as the businesses did not comply with the 
qualifying criteria.   

Before the R350 social relief grant was activated, Sassa used part of its budget to purchase and distribute food parcels to people in need. By 11 May, when this initiative ended, 146 936 food parcels had been distributed.  The audit team determined that the distribution process could have been significantly cheaper had Sassa used the existing non-profit organisations utilised by the Department of Social Development instead of appointing service providers.   



In total, 6 123 quarantine sites were initially targeted but by 31 July, only 510 sites had been identified by the Department of Public Works and only 192 had been activated for use by the Department of Health.   

The audit identified control weaknesses, overpayments, money spent on sites not yet activated (approved) by the Department of Health, and state-owned properties upgraded for use as quarantine sites not being utilised. It is unlikely that government will pursue the original target for quarantine sites as the demand for such facilities has been relatively low.     

In total, R4,8 billion was made available for field hospitals. For this purpose, 66 projects were identified across the country – the money would be used either to upgrade current.    Hospitals or build/use temporary structures to increase hospital beds. By 30 June, only 18 of these projects had been completed.   

The expanded public works programme (EPWP) was mobilised to provide frontline
services and, at the same time, much-needed job opportunities. The Department of
Public Works was tasked with urgently sourcing 25 000 additional workers to assist the Department of Health with screening, testing and educational campaigns – funding of R771 million was allocated for this purpose.    By 30 June, only 8 229 workers had been recruited and R26 million spent on management and administrative expenses and PPE for participants. No payments had yet been made to workers as the start of the programme was delayed. The Independent Development Trust is the implementing agent for the EPWP and also for this initiative. The same poor record keeping and potential fraud risks are emerging as has been reported for a number of  years with regard to the programme.     



At first R3,9 billion was provided through repurposing grants that municipalities already received for the 2019-20 financial year towards Covid-19 response, topped up by money from the municipal disaster relief fund. The fiscal relief package provided for a further R20 billion for municipal support in the form of an additional R9 billion in grants for Covid-19 response and a further R11 billion in equitable share payments. 

READ MORE    


https://www.agsa.co.za/Portals/0/Reports/Special%20Reports/Covid-19%20Special%20report/2020%20Covid-19%20Media%20Release%20FINALISED.pdf

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 REPORT  9 DECEMBER 2020

The AG says government’s quick actions and responses should be commended, as they “enabled the provision of additional hospital beds, medical equipment, medicines and quarantine sites, as well as community screening, testing and awareness programmes. It also paid for personal protective equipment for health facilities, schools and frontline workers, and for the emergency supply of water to communities and schools. Millions of vulnerable households were supported through grants, and unemployed people and businesses that struggled to continue during the lockdown period received funding to keep them afloat”.       

The AG reports that R95,84 billion (65%) of the R148,06 billion her office is auditing had been spent by 30 September 2020 as per the accounting records of those they audit (auditees). She says most initiatives were completed or close to completion; while some have been abandoned or redirected.     

In the report, the audit office again reports that the information technology systems, processes and controls used in government were not agile enough to respond to the changes required.   The lack of validation, integration and sharing of data across government platforms resulted in people (including government officials) receiving benefits and grants to which they were not entitled.   

In its first special report, the audit office reported various incorrect Ters payments made and flagged a high number of payments that required further investigation. These payments included payouts to people who are below the legal age of employment, deceased, working in government, receiving social grants, or receiving other Unemployment Insurance Fund (UIF) benefits.     

Maluleke says the UIF is using the first report as a critical tool to reflect on its overall control environment and identify areas for improvement. The AG notes that “it is encouraging to note that, as at October 2020, the fund has recovered about R3,4 billion of funds that may have been disbursed incorrectly”.     

The AG explains that because the UIF depends on the accuracy of the declarations and information submitted by the claimants (bargaining councils or employers), this exposes the fund to the risk of paying fraudulent claims. This risk, says Maluleke, was increased by the Ters benefit coverage being expanded to include employees who were not registered with the fund before the covid-19 pandemic.   

The AG’s report also highlights these findings:
• On average, one third of the applications are rejected each month.
– The AGSA confirmed that by end of August, 0,92 million of the 2,95 million
rejections had been approved and the beneficiaries had received the grants,
backdated from the date from which they were entitled to it.   

• Although Sassa had embarked on a project to improve beneficiary validation,
this has not yet borne fruit and the auditors continued to identify beneficiaries
that are potentially also receiving income from other sources.
– These sources include government pensions, social grants, UIF payments,
national student financial aid scheme bursaries and benefits from other covid19 relief funds.
– By 31 August 2020, the AGSA had identified a total of 67 770 beneficiaries
potentially receiving income from these sources, which represents 0,32% of the
approved applications.
– The auditors also reported 1 513 beneficiaries who are directors of companies
that have government contracts for investigation.   


The Department of Agriculture, Land Reform and Rural Development provided relief for 15 513 financially distressed small-scale farmers in the form of vouchers for production input. The final date to redeem these vouchers was extended to 31 December 2020.

Maluleke reports that the bulk of the government’s procurement of PPE is taking place in the health and education sectors, with an estimated R4,6 billion spent by 30 September.

READ MORE


https://www.agsa.co.za/Portals/0/Reports/Special%20Reports/Covid-19%20Special%20report/2020%202nd%20Covid-19%20Media%20Release%20FINALISEDFN.pdf

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ILLEGAL IMMIGRANTS  2019
http://www.agsa.co.za/Reporting/SpecialAuditReports/PerformanceAuditReporting.aspx

http://www.agsa.co.za/Portals/0/Tenders/2019/Press%20Release/DHA%20Report%20-%20Final%20addendum%20version.pdf?ver=2019-11-28-090023-550



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During September 2020, it was stated by Corruption watch, that the perpetrators of this corruption have been unashamedly brazen in their hijacking of the emergency measures put into place to deal with COVID-19 in South Africa. Such measures included, among others, a R500-billion (US$30 billion) relief package to provide for food parcels for the needy, a temporary social grant increase for over 16 million beneficiaries and the Temporary Employer/Employee Relief Scheme (TERS) for those whose salaries were affected. To implement these and other measures, the government also put in place emergency procurement regulations.

https://www.transparency.org/en/blog/in-south-africa-covid-19-has-exposed-greed-and-spurred-long-needed-action-against-corruption#

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On 26 July 2020 it was explained that the deals believed to be worth more than R2.2 billion involving emergency purchases of personal protective equipment (PPE) are at the centre of the investigation, with 90 companies that received contracts from the Gauteng health department under the spotlight.  The group is also investigating R30 million in alleged irregular contracts in KwaZulu-Natal. The SIU will then move to the Eastern Cape, where it will probe a R4.8 million contract awarded by the OR Tambo municipality for a Covid awareness campaign. 

In a national address on Thursday (23 July), Ramaphosa said there had been allegations of:

  • Fraudulent UIF claims;
  • Overpricing of goods and services;
  • Violation of emergency procurement regulations;
  • Collusion between officials and service providers;
  • Abuse of food parcel distribution;
  • The creation of fake non-profit organisations to access relief funding.

Billions of rands looted by South Africa’s ‘Covidpreneurs’: report




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WHO PAID THE ARMY AND THE CUBAN DOCTORS?

 

While under the lockdown – the National Prosecuting Authority (NPA) served former Ethekwini mayor Zandile Gumede with a warrant of arrest for her alleged role in the R389 million waste management scandal. Gumede made her first appearance in May alongside her senior municipal officials. In August, she was appointed to the KwaZulu-Natal Legislature despite criminal charges against her.

On 1 June 2020, Ramaphosa relaxes Covid-19 regulations and places the country under lockdown Level 3. The ban on alcohol sale was also lifted but not cigarettes. This led to various court challenges against the government. Soon after the relaxation, Hawks and NPA pounced on eight executives of the formerly VBS Mutual Bank for their role in the looting of R1.9 billion “Great Bank Heist”. They are due to appear again in February. 

During the same period in July, the Special Investigative Unit lined several Gauteng Health officials to the R1.9 billion irregular issuing of PPE tenders. Also implicated was former Gauteng Health MEC Dr Bandile Masuku and Ramaphosa’s spokesperson Khusela Diko. Masuku was later relieved of his duties in October – but has lodged a court challenge against his dismissal. 

The governing ANC was also not spared from any controversy – its senior members were charged with various counts of corruption including the party machine and secretary Ace Magashule. Magashule was charged with fraud, corruption and money laundering related to the R255m asbestos scandal. But the implicated officials – due the ANC’s widening factional battles – still remain in office.

https://www.iol.co.za/news/politics/2020-through-the-political-lense-ppe-corruption-covid-19-scandals-and-high-profile-court-battles-67477d8a-45e9-4124-88a8-8def6e025451


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