South African Finance Minister Enoch Godongwana expects lawmakers to pass a new procurement law for state-owned companies and government departments next year, a reform central to efforts to clamp down on the graft that became endemic during Jacob Zuma’s rule.
“It is my prayer and expectation” that the Public Procurement Bill, to be tabled in parliament in March, will be approved within six months and take effect soon after, Godongwana told reporters in Pretoria, the capital, on Tuesday.
President Cyril Ramaphosa last month pledged to redesign the country’s entire anti-corruption architecture, including banning ministers from participating in procurement, introducing new laws to regulate state contracts and ensuring whistle-blowers are better protected.
The reforms were proposed in response to recommendations by a judicial panel that probed the misuse of taxpayers’ funds during Zuma’s nine-year presidency.
The new rules will give effect to some of the changes announced, said Ismail Momoniat, the acting head of the National Treasury.
The panel led by Chief Justice Raymond Zondo spent four years investigating a practice known locally as state capture. More than 300 witnesses described how government departments and companies were looted of billions of rands by Zuma’s allies, with his tacit consent.
Ramaphosa previously said at least R500 billion was stolen. Zuma, who quit in 2018 under pressure from the ruling party, has repeatedly denied wrongdoing.
“Stop-gap” rules that allow state entities to award contracts in line with the Preferential Procurement Policy Framework Act will take effect from Jan. 16, Godongwana said.
He said that those regulations will ensure they follow the government’s Black economic empowerment and localization policies.