Cyril Ramaphosa. Picture: SUNDAY TIMES
Cyril Ramaphosa. Picture: SUNDAY TIMES

President Cyril Ramaphosa, who rose to the highest office on an anti-corruption ticket, will be forced to prove his mettle if parliament debates the misappropriation of funds relating to Covid-19 tenders.

Corruption linked to the coronavirus procurement contracts has become a political hot potato for the governing ANC as those implicated include relatives of party bigwigs and politically connected business people.

Ramaphosa is in a difficult position as acting against those implicated could upset a faction opposed to his leadership of the ANC, while turning a blind eye would be seen as paying lip service to the fight against corruption.

DA interim leader John Steenhuisen has written to National Assembly speaker Thandi Modise, calling on her to schedule an urgent parliamentary debate on the matter.

The official opposition party wants Ramaphosa to be summoned to parliament and answer for the “behaviour of his party’s members and set out exactly how he intends to act against each and every implicated individual”.

Steenhuisen said while it was predictable, “the feeding frenzy over Covid-19-related tenders among ANC-connected individuals is a filthy stain on our country in this time of crisis”.

Presidency spokesperson Khusela Diko had to temporarily step aside from her position after it emerged that her husband was awarded a contract worth R124m by the Gauteng health department to supply personal protective equipment (PPE). Diko is a member of the ANC provincial executive committee in Gauteng.

Sunday Times reported that Hlulani Siweya, a relative of deputy minister in the presidency and ANC national executive committee member Thembi Siweya scored more than R800,000 worth of contracts to supply the Limpopo health department with PPE.

ANC secretary-general Ace Magashule’s eldest son Tshepiso’s Motheko Projects received a contract for R2.29m and Tshepiso’s brother Thato’s Marvel Deeds scored R427,221 from the Free State treasury, according to the Daily Maverick.

Tuwo Rhodesia, a company owned by former minister Nomvula Mokonyane’s daughter, Katleho, was handed a R2.7m contract to supply soap to Gauteng’s health department, the website reported.

Ramaphosa’s son Andile is involved in a project to provide a safety feature for taxis to limit the spread of Covid-19, through his non-profit company, SDI Force.

Andile partnered with FNB in the R6m project. No state funds are involved in the project, according to the Sunday Times.

“The governing party and those connected to its elite cannot be allowed to repurpose a national state of disaster as a means of self-enrichment when the very lives and livelihoods of ordinary South Africans are at immediate peril,” said Steenhuisen.

Irvin Jim, general secretary of the National Union of Metalworkers of SA (Numsa), said they were irritated and disgusted by the “naked and open looting” of Covid-19 funds.

“We demand that the ANC government, in addressing these allegations of corruption surrounding the PPE tenders across all provinces, must consult trade unions, civil society and business on the appointment of independent, external individuals or institutions who must preside and embark on a fact-finding mission on such allegations of corruption,” said Jim.

They did not “rule out mobilising for the mother of all political strikes against a rotten and corrupt ANC government”.

In July, however, the president signed a proclamation authorising the Special Investigating Unit to “investigate any unlawful or improper conduct in the procurement of any goods, works and services during or related to the national state of disaster in any state institution”.

Sunday Times reported that the claims of profiteering from Covid-19 contracts have split the ANC’s top brass along pre-Nasrec factions, as leaders squabbled at the party’s national executive committee (NEC) meeting at the weekend on how to deal with corruption allegations levelled against its leaders. 

The ANC went to its national elective conference held at Nasrec in Johannesburg in 2017 torn between those supporting Ramaphosa for president, while Magashule was part of a faction supporting Nkosazana Dlamini-Zuma for the position.

Dlamini-Zuma lost the leadership battle but Ramaphosa appointed her as co-operative governance and traditional affairs minister. She is in charge of the national disaster regulations governing the lockdown, which include among others the ban on alcohol and cigarette sales.

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