POLITICAL WEEK AHEAD: DA to propose mechanism to monitor Covid-19 relief funds
The DA will on Monday present its proposal for a “dedicated oversight mechanism” to monitor the distribution of Covid-19 relief funds and prevent corruption.
In April President Cyril Ramaphosa announced a R500bn social and economic package to keep SA’s struggling economy going during the coronavirus outbreak.
“Previous localised disasters have seen resources siphoned off for illicit purposes, through illegitimate procurement practices, undue cost escalation and direct theft,” the DA said.
“Following the country’s downgrade to junk and the economic devastation resultant from the Covid-19 lockdown, we need to ensure that every single cent meant for relief is directed towards its intended purpose.”
Ramaphosa has said his administration will keep “a hawk’s eye” on how the money is going to be spent, and that he had already spoken to auditor-general Kimi Makwethu to put systems in place “so that money doesn't end up in people's pockets”.
The president has said he did not want to hear of a request to establish a Covid-19 commission after the pandemic is over.
On Sunday parliament said the deep cleaning of the National Assembly chamber will start on Monday, followed by another round of sanitising the precinct on Wednesday ahead of a plenary that day when ministers will reply to questions by MPs. It said walk-through sanitising booths at all three entrances of parliament have been installed.
Several parliamentary committees will hold virtual meetings this week.
The Treasury and the department of public enterprises are set to brief the standing committee on appropriations on Wednesday on the financial challenges that face power utility Eskom and embattled state-owned airlines SAA and SA Express.
Eskom is battling with an estimated R450bn debt and SAA about R12.7bn, while SA Express owes creditors more than R2bn. SAA was placed in business rescue in December, while SA Express was placed under provisional liquidation at the high court in Johannesburg on April 29 after its business rescue practitioners, Phahlani Mkhombo and Daniel Terblanche, argued that it had no prospect of survival.
The final liquidation hearing is expected to take place on June 9. The airline told its employees recently that they will not be paid and that they must not return to work, as their contracts of employment were suspended due to the provisional liquidation.
On Thursday the ministry of health will update a joint meeting of the portfolio committee on health and the select committee on health and social services on Covid-19, among other things.
Following consultations with business and labour stakeholders at the National Economic Development and Labour Council (Nedlac), and also with leaders of political parties, Ramaphosa announced on Sunday that the country will be downgrading from level 4 to level 3 on June 1 to allow for more economic activity.
Also taking place on June 1 is that the high court in Pretoria will hear an application by the DA on the “rationality” of the Covid-19 regulations as they pertain to the national curfew from 8pm-5am, the prohibition of e-commerce and exercise window from 6am-9am.
But Ramaphosa said on Sunday people will be allowed to exercise any time of the day during level 3, provided they are not doing so in groups, and that “e-commerce will continue”.
The DA has launched a separate application with the Constitutional Court to challenge the constitutionality of section 27 of the Disaster Management Act, which governs the lockdown.
The DA said the legislation, which it argues is invalid, breaches the doctrine of separation of powers, and the party has questioned its rationality and the stringent measures the government has put in place to limit people’s movements, among others.
The DA — which has called on the government to end the lockdown soon — wants the act to include parliamentary oversight and powers that would result in parliament being able to veto the regulations, declarations and extensions of the state of disaster under the act if it does not agree with them.
SA has been under a strict national lockdown, enforced under the act, since March 26 in a bid to limit the spread of the Covid-19 pandemic.
Correction: May 24 2020
This article has been updated to reflect June 1 as the date the high court in Pretoria will hear the DA’s application on the rationality of the lockdown regulations.