South Africa’s latest scandal in the procurement of coronavirus goods and services through the granting of alleged corrupt tenders posed danger to the ruling African National Congress (ANC)’s reign, a local NGO has said in Cape Town.Issuing the warning on Saturday, the Desmond & Leah Tutu Legacy Foundation said that the ANC risked losing power if it failed to stop the current rot of corruption among its members.
“For the state, the window of opportunity is closing on them to demonstrate the courage and the muscle to act decisively by holding the culprits in its ranks accountable, regardless of who they are,” foundation Chief Executive Officer Piyushi Kotecha said.
She added: “If it (the window) closes, we must brace ourselves for turbulence. For, in democracies, when the people are ready, governments change.”
Kotecha said this a day after the foundation joined the South African Council of Churches, the Nelson Mandela Foundation and other civil society organisations in condemning alleged corruption in Covid-19 emergency goods procurement deals.
The organisations said they were consulting academics and legal experts “to mobilise a comprehensive societal response against corruption” in the country.
This would include the re-opening of the “unburdening panel” for whistle-blowers and public servants to report corruption, “as well as a national call for the public to demonstrate their outrage at not only the looting, but the lack of consequences for it,” Kotecha said.
Kotecha warned that the latest bout of alleged corruption “shames South Africa and poisons an opportunity to reduce economic inequality” in a country already said to be one of the most unequal societies in the world – a legacy of the defunct apartheid rule which officially ended in 1994.
“The allegations that South Africa’s defences against Covid-19 have been turned into business opportunities for the politically connected are a massive setback for the country’s integrity and post-pandemic economic landscape,” Kotecha said.
End the “culture of impunity” around corruption, she told the ANC whose leader, President Cyril Ramaphosa, has set up a ministerial committee and ordered the security agencies to probe the serious allegations surrounding Covid-19 procurement of goods and services.