The findings by the Special Investigating Unit (SIU) into alleged corruption and fraud in the former Eastern Cape Department of Roads and Transport involving at least R90 million must be finalised and acted upon as a matter of urgency. This province is being bled dry by tenderpreneurship, dishonesty and maladministration.
If any of the shocking claims should be true, the culprits must be dealt with speedily and in the harshest possible way. Criminal convictions must be sought to act as deterrent to prevent this from continuing.
The allegations that irregular tenders were awarded to friends and family members are so shocking that it cannot be described as anything but the stealing of state funds and resources. One can understand why service delivery has hit hot rock bottom after 18 years of democracy in this poor, corrupt province. State coffers have been plundered by corrupt officials for personal gain while the poorest of the poor suffer year in and year out.
My call on government is that this investigation should be finalised and that a full report be tabled with the Portfolio Committee for Roads and Public Works in the Bhisho Legislature. Criminal convictions must be the next step should there be a shadow of evidence against officials. State prosecutors should insist on lengthy jails terms for every person involved if found guilty.
I have warned many times that we should appoint highly skilled people in our administration. They need to be fit for purpose and work within a structure where oversight procedures are functional so that corruption is prevented from the outset. This is clearly not happening. Allegations include R60-million in irregular payments made to service providers in the Port St Johns Municipality and R30-million to three entities for road repairs that were never done.
I suspect this investigation is only the tip of the iceberg. If so, the Eastern Cape is the most corrupt province in South Africa. We see national intervention teams come and go, but the rot cannot be stopped. Only an overhaul of government can eradicate this. A change of government is long overdue.
Pine Pienaar, MPL