Northern Cape premier Zamani Saul. Picture: SUNDAY TIMES
Northern Cape premier Zamani Saul. Picture: SUNDAY TIMES

Northern Cape premier Zamani Saul has denied links to tender corruption related to personal protective equipment (PPE), saying the allegations were part of a pushback against his attempt to clean up the province.

Saul is among President Cyril Ramaphosa’s close allies and has been particularly vocal against corruption and largesse in the Northern Cape. He famously decried the exorbitant spending by public officials, and moved to put an end to the perks of high office, including blue light convoys and other “executive luxuries”.

The ANC is in the midst of a factional war between those seen to be fighting corruption and those who are accused of looting state coffers.

The battle played out at an ANC national executive committee meeting, held over the weekend, in which scrutiny of the party’s entire top six leadership by its integrity commission was mooted.

Saul was reacting to a Sunday Times report that sought to link him to two people in the province who received R40m tenders.

The tenders – one for the health department and another for the SA Police – were reportedly handed to the wife of Saul’s special adviser and a businessman, Somandla Sibisi, which the report describes as Saul’s friend. Saul denies the allegation, saying SAPS procurement was a national competency, and challenging anyone with evidence linking him to the businessman to come forward.

“The insinuation in the article is mired in untruth and devoid of facts and substance. At no point was I involved or did I try to influence procurement processes in the [health department] or SAPS for the benefit of certain individuals.” In fact, he said, “I do not have any role in the management of the SAPS and how they issue tenders, as the SAPS is a national competency.”

Saul says he was one of the first premiers to support the disclosure of all PPE procurement and will act against anyone found to be flouting procurement laws.

“The Northern Cape government presented a most detailed report on Covid-19 expenditures. This is all due to the fact that there was nothing to hide from my side,” he said on Sunday.

He added that since the beginning of his administration he had embarked on far-reaching measures to cut waste and curb corruption, which culminated in the government saving about R200m in under a year.

“I’m quite aware that there are individuals that are deeply unhappy about these measures and busy with a serious pushback campaign. This attack is just one of those instalments of the pushback campaign [meant] to soil my reputation,” he said.

“I will not be deterred by this witch-hunt and blackmail... Let me assure the people of the Northern Cape that if there is anything untoward about any of the Covid-19 related tenders that were issued to the 175 companies there will be serious consequences for all those involved.”

The report comes two weeks after Saul lambasted those engaged in tender fraud relating to PPE, likening it to the plunder of state resources intended for soldiers on the front line by Nazi generals when Germany was on the brink of defeat during World War 2.

Speaking at the funeral of Northern Cape MEC for education MacCollen Jack, Saul said the plunder and loot of public resources meant to curb the spread of Covid-19 marked SA’s own “moment of death of all human conscience” and added that the “behaviour and attitude of some of us is similar, if not worse, than that of the greedy Nazi generals”.

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