Citizen Reporter
2 minute read
6 Sep 2021
12:31 pm

GP Govt accused of using POPIA to ‘hide’ Covid-19 PPE expenses

Citizen Reporter

It would appear that the province is using the POPI Act to conceal the names of suppliers of PPE and how much has been spent.

Coronavirus protection, medical protective masks, gloves, hand sanitizer bottles, antiseptic, disinfectant. Picture - iStock

In a question and answer session at the Provincial Legislature, MEC for Finance, Nomantu Nkomo-Ralehoko said that reports on Covid-19 expenditure for February and March are not yet public because of the year-end process.

The outstanding reports were supposed to be published after the audit closure, which was the end of August 2021.

Additionally, it would appear that the Gauteng government using the POPI Act, to conceal the names of suppliers-unless prior permission has been given.

All this has prompted DA Gauteng Shadow MEC for Finance to accuse the Gauteng government of hiding behind the Protection of Personal Information Act (POPIA) and audit process, after failing to provide reports on how much it spent on Protective Personal Equipment (PPE) since the start of the Covid-19 pandemic.

“This is a flimsy excuse, denying the rights of citizens to know who has been paid with taxpayer money,” said the DA’s Adriana Randall.

ALSO READ: ‘R17.6 million spent but no criminal charges laid by Gauteng health dept’ – DA

Government is mandated by National Treasury to publish regular Covid-19 expenditure reports.

The report delays come amid the Special Investigating Unit’s (SIU’s) probe into allegations of corruption involving a R300 million personal protective equipment (PPE) tender at the province’s health department.

Last June the Health Department fired its Chief Director: Supply Chain and Asset Management, Thandiwe Pino, for her involvement in the irregular awarding of PPE contracts.

The SIU investigated allegations of maladministration, greed, nepotism and corruption relating to the appointment of service providers to supply PPE and related goods and services.

At the same time, police are investigating a hit on SIU whistleblower Babita Deokaran. She was a key witness in a multimillion-rand PPE tender fraud investigation.

ALSO READ: Babita Deokaran: Hitmen allegedly paid R2.8 million to kill Gauteng whistleblower

“The Gauteng government has a responsibility to spend our taxpayers’ money in a transparent and responsible manner. It is important now more than ever that government spends their scarce financial resources in a proper manner, especially now that our economy has been hard hit by Covid-19,” said Randall.

Randall said that Western Cape Covid-19 expenditure reports are transparently published on a regular basis.

“This is what a responsible government would do. The DA will continue to demand that these Covid-19 expenditure reports are made public so that taxpayers can know exactly where and on what their money has been spent,” added Randall.