The R500 billion (approximately US$30 billion) relief fund, announced by South Africa’s President Cyril Ramaphosa in April to combat the spread of COVID-19 and offset dire economic losses resulting from lockdown, is being investigated following cries of corruption.
The growing pressure for accountability of covid funds comes as Zimbabwe’s President Emmerson Mnangagwa fired Health and Child Care Minister Dr Obadiah Moyo.
Dr Moyo was arrested last month for allegedly facilitating a dodgy US$60 million medical equipment deal with shady businessman Delish Nguwaya, who reportedly has close ties with President Mnangagwa’s family.
In a letter on Tuesday, Chief Secretary to the President and Cabinet Dr Misheck Sibanda said, “Please be advised that His Excellency the President of the Republic of Zimbabwe, Cde ED Mnangagwa, has … removed you, Obadiah Moyo from the office of cabinet minister and minister of government with immediate effect for conduct inappropriate for a Government minister.”
Across the Limpopo, South Africa’s Special Investigating Unit (SIU) confirmed that it had been tasked with leading the inquiry into allegations of fraud and corruption, noting that the National COVID-19 proclamation — which would determine the probe’s mandate and remit — was in its final drafting phase.
SIU spokesperson Kaizer Kganyago confirmed that all allegations of corruption relating to the R500 billion relief fund would be consolidated into one investigation within the National COVID-19 proclamation.
President Ramaphosa, who initially certified the COVID-19 Relief Fund, which accounts for 10 percent of the country’s GDP and relies on backing from international financial institutions, will need to sign the proclamation before the SIU can begin its investigative groundwork.
In announcing the relief package, President Ramaphosa insisted that municipalities, government departments and state-owned enterprises would need to account for expenditure related to the R500 billion fund. Recent reports of corruption, emerging from the Eastern Cape and Gauteng, have forced the SIU into action.
In OR Tambo district municipality, in the Eastern Cape, it’s alleged that tender corruption has been rife, with millions of rands falling into unscrupulous hands via an erroneous COVID-19 awareness campaign.
Initial reports indicate that a company contracted to conduct a door-to-door campaign — at a cost of R4,8 million — failed to prove any form of outreach.
Kganyago confirmed that investigations into the procurement of personal protective equipment in Gauteng were already underway with assistance from the department of justice.
Kganyago elaborated:“The SIU has received a lot of inquiries and a lot of allegations. What has since happened is that we had one of the allegations that were given from the Gauteng health (department) in relation with the PPEs and we have started the process as we speak; the process is with the department of justice to try and get a proclamation.”
Kganyago explained that the proclamation process — which would allow for collective investigations without needing approval from individual departments — sought to mitigate any delays. Kganyago added:
“When we have the [national] proclamation we do not need to wait for a proclamation for each and every case. When an allegation comes, we can go immediately and investigate it.”
The ruling African National Congress (ANC) — which has been subjected to allegations of food parcel fraud — has voiced its support for all investigative efforts tasked with rooting out corruption. – Staff Writer/The South African