Widespread government corruption in SA revealed


MORE THAN 2,000 government officials in South Africa were involved in rigging tenders in favour of family and friends worth almost €55 million, a local media report has claimed.

The Sunday Timesreported that an investigation by auditor general Terence Nombembe uncovered widespread irregularities and corruption among civil servants at provincial and national level. Government departments, in many instances, did not obtain three quotes as per guidelines, and civil servants awarded tenders to companies they owned, or their spouses or relatives.

Mr Nombembe said in his report, which focused on tenders awarded between 2005 and 2007: “If senior managers and heads of department don’t take corrective action, especially when the need for it is so clearly demonstrated ... then the responsibility lies with the MECs [provincial ministers] and ministers to ensure corrective action.”

In eight provinces officials cashed in on tenders worth €48.4 million, with the remainder fleeced by government employees at national level. Officials in Limpopo province benefited the most with more than €23.3 million worth of tenders shared by 900 civil servants.

The report outlines the scale of the task awaiting new president Jacob Zuma, who himself faced graft charges until recently, if he is to follow through on pre-election promises to weed out government corruption.

Mr Nombembe recommended that those involved in corruption should face disciplinary action and that government procurement systems should be strictly monitored.

Elsewhere, a crucial investment protection agreement has been signed by South Africa and Zimbabwe that should pave the way for lines of credit worth €246 million to become available to the latter country from its neighbour.

Zimbabwe’s recently established unity government has been finding it difficult to attract foreign investment because of policies introduced by President Robert Mugabe and his Zanu-PF party when it was the ruling party.

From the year 2000, under the controversial land reform policy, thousands of white commercial farmers, including some South Africans, have had their land taken illegally by militias and gangs loyal to Mr Mugabe.

During the World Economic Forum in Cape Town last week, Zimbabwe’s new minister for finance Tendai Biti told delegates his government had acknowledged it could not provide infrastructure as its parastatals were in dire straits.

Meanwhile, US president Barack Obama has praised Zimbabwe’s prime minister Morgan Tsvangirai on his visit to Washington where he sought financial support for the unity government.

President Obama said he had “extraordinary admiration for the courage and tenacity” shown by the former opposition leader during his efforts to secure Zimbabwe’s democratic future. The US pledged €52.8 million in aid to support human rights, the rule of law and basic health and education in Zimbabwe.