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COSATU urges Parliament to strengthen and expedite the long awaited Public Procurement Bill

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COSATU urges Parliament to strengthen and expedite the long awaited Public Procurement Bill

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15th September 2023

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The Congress of South African Trade Unions (COSATU) urges Parliament to strengthen and expedite the long-awaited Public Procurement Bill.  This is a long overdue progressive bill that will lay the foundation for a single public procurement system across the entire state, e.g. departments, municipalities, entities and State-Owned Enterprises.   

Currently there is no single public procurement legislative framework and as a consequence, the situation in many state institutions is akin to something from the wild west.  The existing legislative gaps were brought to a fore in 2022 when the Constitutional Court declared that Treasury lacked the legislative powers to set local content and Broad Based Black Economic Empowerment (BBBEE) public procurement criteria. 

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The Zondo Commission heard countless evidence of how our leaky public procurement systems enable industrial scale corruption and wasteful expenditure.

COSATU engaged extensively with Treasury on the Bill at Nedlac.  We are pleased we reached consensus on many key interventions and the majority of the Bill’s provisions.  Our support for the Bill is premised upon its:

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Establishing a single public procurement framework for the entire state.  This will enable common standards to be established across an often fragmented and chaotic government institutions.

Requiring public procurement processes take into account and support local content and BBBEE.  This is key to supporting and creating local jobs and transforming our still racially skewed economy.

Requiring a single online portal be set up where all tender information will be available to the public.  This will shine a massive spotlight on the murky world of tenders and help expose and discourage corruption.

Enabling the centralised procurement of certain key items to enable the state to save the fiscus badly needed revenue.

Empowering the Chief Procurement Office in Treasury to intervene and halt public procurement that falls foul of the law.  This will be a powerful tool to tackle often openly corrupt government tenders.

Whilst the Federation supports this critical anti-corruption bill and looks forward to its passage by Parliament, we believe the Bill and its regulations need to be strengthened to:

Elevate local content into a requirement for public procurement.  This is key to protecting and growing local industries and badly needed jobs.

Incentivise whilst blowers who expose corruption.  This will be key if we are to turn the tide in this existential battle.  

Require the disclosure and recording of any relatives of politically influential persons who receive tenders as a way of preventing the abuse of public procurement by persons in senior office. 

It is critical Parliament move with strengthen expedite this progressive Bill into law before the conclusion of the 6th administration.  We cannot afford any further delays in rebuilding our public procurement system.

 

Issued by COSATU

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