The Southern African Catholic Bishops’ Conference (SACBC) has condemned “the Covid-19 corruption scandal”, saying it represents a “severe lack of ethical leadership”.
SACBC president Bishop Sithembele Sipuka has called on President Cyril Ramaphosa to take action against those implicated in corruption in the procurement of Covid-19 supplies, including the suspension, arrest and prosecution of those involved.
The call came a week after Ramaphosa appointed a six-member Cabinet committee to deal with all allegations of corruption related to Covid-19 procurement.
The committee is expected to investigate a list of names awarded tenders during the national state of disaster and prepare a comprehensive report, which will be released to the public.
However, Sipuka said, this was not enough.
“We wish to remind the president that the time for inter-ministerial committees, commissions of enquiries and political compromises is now over. We want to see the immediate suspension, investigation, arrests and prosecution of those involved, irrespective of who they are (sic).”
The SACBC has called on the president and Cabinet to expedite the re-establishment of a specialised anti-corruption unit, as well as specialised courts to handle corruption cases.
“The current tender system should be reviewed in favour of greater transparency and accountability, while the moral regeneration movement should also be strengthened “with priority being given to a critical return to ethical values and family as a basic social unit”, Sipuka said.
“During this difficult time in our nation when the lives and livelihoods of millions of people are at stake, the country cannot afford high levels of trust deficit in the government and the office of the president.
“In the name of the voiceless and the poor whose means of survival is stolen from them by criminals posing as leaders, we expect the immediate response to these demands,” Sipuka added.