South Africa

Western Cape opposition parties slam ’gift-wrapped’ Covid-19 procurement report as DA PR exercise

Cape Town - Opposition parties have slammed the quarterly edition of the Western Cape provincial Procurement Disclosure Report for posing as transparent yet concealing critical information.

The eighth Procurement Disclosure Report by the provincial Treasury provides details on all Covid-19 procurement by Western Cape Government (WCG) departments and entities.

MEC for Finance and Economic Opportunities David Maynier said the report confirms that the R1.92 billion spent to date has been committed towards Covid-19-related expenditure across departments and public entities in the 2020/21 financial year.

For the period April 1, 2020, to January 31, 2021, provincial departments’ total Covid-19 expenditure was R1.917bn while provincial public entities spent R3.01 million, Maynier said.

He said a total of R907.69m was spent with small, medium and micro-enterprises (SMMEs).

“Total Covid-19 procurement expenditure for January 2021 amounted to R66.22m, of which R66.19m was spent by provincial departments and R30 369.11 by public entities,” he said.

Maynier added that the report affirmed their commitment to transparency and clean governance.

But SACP provincial secretary Benson Ngqentsu said the report was another DA public relations campaign.

“The DA pretends to be transparent yet conceals critical developmental dimensions. Their data does indicate where monies were spent in their quantities. What is its demographic profile – the inability to categorise in terms of youth, women, nationality of the SMME expenditure? At the centre of any DA delivery remains its refusal to accept transformative policies.”

Good Party general secretary Brett Herron said the report was like a “giftwrapped box with nothing inside”.

“In the early days of the pandemic, the WCG announced that details of its PPE and Covid-19-related procurement would be published monthly for public scrutiny. Initially, the provincial Treasury published fairly detailed reports, allowing for scrutiny of what was ordered from which supplier, and how much it cost.

“But the scrutiny must have been uncomfortable because the province quickly reverted to publishing summaries and hiding the most salient procurement details.

“On February 5, 2021, I asked (Maynier) why he had stopped publishing the procurement details. Maynier must republish his report, including the promised detail, line by line, on who procured what, from whom and at what cost. If there’s nothing to hide he has nothing to lose,” he said.

ANC spokesperson on finance and economic opportunities Nobulumko Nkondlo said there has been concern about how the WCG and its entities give opportunities to black-owned businesses, in particular.

“The 47.6% benefit to SMMEs is commendable, but falls short regarding their credentials as BBBEE compliant enterprises. This emanates from the report by the BBBEE Commission that the majority of Western Cape departments are in breach of Section 13G (1) to submit their BBBEE certificate as a way to verify compliance with their procurement practices.”

The report comes as the Special Investigating Unit said it was still probing more Western Cape PPE procurement contracts.

Cape Times

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