President Cyril Ramaphosa.
- The Special Investigating Unit has submitted its interim report on investigations into allegations of misuse of Covid-19 funds to the president.
- The findings will be made public once the SIU concludes its investigations.
- National Treaury is also publishing details of Covid-19 related contracts in the interests of transparency and accountability.
President Cyril Ramaphosa has received the first interim report from the Special Investigating Unit, with details on the progress made so far in investigations related to the misuse of Covid-19 funds.
The president addressed the nation on Wednesday evening to announce that lockdown restrictions would ease to Level 1 from Sunday, 20 September.
Ramaphosa said that while many of the remaining restrictions on economic activity would be eased, it would still be some time before it was safe for all sectors to return to full operation.
The president also provided an update on efforts to clamp down on Covid-19 corruption, which has bedeviled the state’s roll-out of emergency funding and tenders.
There have been multiple allegations of corruption in the procurement of personal protective equipment, implicating some individuals connected to ANC officials.
“The coronavirus pandemic has exposed the extent to which corruption has infected our society and robbed our country of vital resources at the time we need them most,” the president said.
The president said that the SIU is working alongside eight other agencies at the Covid-19 fusion centre who are detecting, investigating and prosecuting “any instances of corruption”.
“We continue to work to strengthen our anti-corruption efforts through measures to provide the NPA and other law enforcement agencies with the human and financial resources needed to tackle corruption, strengthening of specialised commercial crime courts, which will help expedite Covid-related cases, and the finalisation of the new National Anti-Corruption Strategy.”
National Treasury has also published online details of Covid-19 related contracts awarded by public entities, at both national and provincial level, in order to “encourage transparency and accountability,” Ramaphosa said.
Ramaphosa also noted that the office of the Auditor-General had been helpful in “identifying weaknesses and risks in the management of Covid resources”. The AG has been detecting cases of possible fraud for investigation, he said.
Recovery plan on the way
The president also gave a brief update on the next stage of the country’s economic recovery plan, after meeting with the National Coronavirus Command Council, the President’s Coordinating Council and the National Economic Development and Labour Council (Nedlac) earlier this week.
Cabinet was looking to finalise the plan in the “coming weeks”, he said, without providing additional detail.
Earlier on Wednesday labour federation Cosatu, which is a member of Nedlac, sent out a statement saying that there was “convergence” between government, labour and business on most areas to rebuild the economy.
The country’s economy is set to contract anywhere between 7% and 13% this year – the worst performance in 90 years.
Other key economic takeaways from Ramaphosa’s address
- The move to alert level 1 will take effect from midnight on Sunday, September 20
- The sale of alcohol at retail outlets for home consumption will now be permitted from Monday to Friday between 09:00 and 17:00.
- Venues for exercise, recreation and entertainment – such as gyms and theatres – which were limited to no more than 50 people, will now be allowed to accommodate up to 50% of their venue’s capacity, subject to social distancing and other health protocols.
- The state will be opening its borders to international travel business and leisure from October 1. A restricted number of border posts and airports ill be in use, and travellers will have to present a recent negative Covid-19 test result on arrival, or else remain in quarantine.
- Ramaphosa said Cabinet was looking to finalise the country’s economic reconstruction and recovery plan in the “coming weeks”, which would build on the state initial R500 billion stimulus package. Talks over what direction the plan should take have been taking place at Nedlac.
- The president encourage all companies to make use of the R200 billion loan guarantee scheme. The scheme has been criticised for its low uptake.
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