Yes, we all know – Africa has a serious problem with corruption. A 2002 African Union study estimated that corruption costs the continent roughly US$ 150 billion a year. Amid the COVID-19 pandemic – corruption continues to hemorrhage the continent. There are over 753 000 confirmed COVID-19 cases in Africa (as of 21 July). Corruption in the procurement of Personal Protective Equipment (PPE) can lead to the death of frontline health workers due to substandard PPE or delays in delivery to health facilities. Here are stories of corruption during COVID-19 in Africa.
Ziwala Limited was awarded a Ksh 84 million (approximately US$ 775 000) tender to supply 120,000 pieces of KN95 masks. Kenya Medical Supplies Authority (Kemsa) is in hot water for procuring the masks at an inflated price of Ksh 700 (approximately US$ 6.5) per piece. The retail price was Ksh 500 (approximately US$ 4.6) at the time. Furthermore according to the companies registry, Ziwala is owned by Samantha Ngina Muthama and June Nduta Kinyua. Samantha Ngina Muthama is the niece of President Uhuru Kenyatta.
Social development, headed by MEC Nonhlanhla Khoza, purchased 48 000 blankets, sanitisers, soap and other hygiene equipment, for distribution to Kwazulu Natal’s 12 districts. None of the purchases were made directly from manufacturers, but instead from a number of middlemen, who added their mark-up after purchasing the blankets, sanitisers, soap, face cloths and hand pumps from manufacturers. The contract was awarded without a tender, using emergency powers in terms of treasury regulations.
Royal Bhaca Projects was awarded a tender from the Gauteng Department of Health for personal protective equipment (PPE) amounting to R125-million (approximately US$ 7.4 million). The company is owned by the disputed amaBhaca King, Thandisizwe Diko. He is the husband of the President’s Spokesperson Khusela Diko. The Diko family is close family friends with Gauteng Health MEC Dr Bandile Masuku.
The government initiated a program to provide food relief for vulnerable citizens amid the coronavirus pandemic. Four government officials connected to the project inflated the relief food prices. Losses are estimated to exceed US$ 528 000.
Zimbabwean Health Minister Obadiah Moyo awarded a US$60 million tender to shelf company Drax International LLC to procure COVID-19 test kits and medical equipment. Drax International invoiced the government an inflated price of US$ 28 for disposable masks whose wholesale price is under US$ 4 from reputable local suppliers. The company Drax International’s director Delish Nguwaya is linked to the president’s son, Colin Mnangagwa.
Corruption cripples governments’ capacity to fight COVID-19. Cronyism, overpricing, mismanagement and corruption of public funds during the pandemic is unconscionable and deadly.
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