Durban – In a bid to get to the bottom of large-scale corruption involving Covid-19 emergency funds, the SA Council of Churches (SACC) has announced a partnership with civil society groups to mobilise “a comprehensive societal response against corruption”.
The council said it would work with other formations, academics and legal experts to ensure that government investigated the allegations.
This comes after reports in recent weeks, revealing allegations of senior politicians and private companies plundering funds meant for the poor.
The SACC, working with the Ahmed Kathrada Foundation, the Desmond and Leah Tutu Legacy Foundation, the Nelson Mandela Foundation, the Foundation for Human Rights and the Council for the Advancement of South African Constitution (Casac), has called upon South Africans to act against corruption.
SACC general secretary Bishop Malusi Mpumlwana said part of their response included the reopening of the “Unburdening Panel” for whistleblowers and public servants to report corruption. Mpumlwana said there needed to be a national call for the public to demonstrate their outrage at not only the looting, but the lack of consequences for it.
Last week, President Cyril Ramaphosa named a Committee of Ministers to deal with allegations of corruption related to Covid-19 procurement and ordered ministers and premiers to provide information on the names of companies and details of tenders and contracts that had been awarded in national departments, provincial governments and public entities since March. The council said corrupt politicians, business people, officials and professionals should not “get away with murder”.
Mpumlwana said the government should name and shame the corrupt, and support and strengthen honest public servants and whistle-blowers.
“The government must ensure that all public representatives and political party executive committee members, and their immediate families, as well as all civil servants are not allowed to conduct business with the state,” he said. The council also demanded that budgets for all Covid-19 related contracts – at all levels of government – be made public. It demanded that the government should disclose public spending of the R500billion stimulus package.
In May, the Ahmed Kathrada Foundation and several civil society organisations made practical recommendations to monitor how the R500bn was going to be spent by the government.
The Ahmed Kathrada Foundation’s executive director Neeshan Balton said corruption related to the Covid-19 Relief Fund had angered many people.
“This has brought us to a point where nobody thought we would be, in terms of corruption.
“When you steal during a pandemic, it means our moral compasses have become so low that anything is possible,” said Balton.
He said due to corruption, poor people were left to suffer while being offered mediocre services that didn’t last for the full period that they were meant to.