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Corruption Watch 'deeply troubled' by trends in school and health sectors

Corruption Watch says it has received an alarming rise in corruption complaints. File photo.
Corruption Watch says it has received an alarming rise in corruption complaints. File photo.
Image: 123RF/Thodonal

Corruption Watch says there are “deeply troubling” trends of corruption at schools and within the health-care sector in SA.

The organisation shared details in its 2020 edition of Analysis of Corruption Trends (ACT) report, released on Tuesday.

“Even after our long-running campaign exposing acts of corruption in schools, we continue to receive complaints about graft perpetuated by administrators and educators,” read the report. “In the schools where corruption cases were collected, misappropriation of resources accounts for 19% of the cases. This is deeply troubling.”

Whistle-blowers described how principals, helped by school governing body members, mismanaged and stole funds earmarked for obtaining resources and buying supplies for the national schools nutrition programme.

“Another prevalent form of corruption is employment irregularities, which account for 17% of school corruption cases received. In this regard, we have been informed that teachers with fraudulent qualifications and certifications are employed and earning a salary commensurate with that of legitimate professionals,” said the report.

Corruption in the health sector was highlighted in particular by the Covid-19 pandemic response efforts.

“The country’s health system is under immense pressure. Corruption in the sector is among the trending areas of concern in this report, accounting for 4% of reports of corruption received.

“Corruption in this sector is perceived to still be a major problem, and at 39%, employment irregularities top the list. Whistle-blowers purport that vacancies are designed to favour officials’ preferred candidates. These individuals are friends, family members and members of political parties,” said the report.

In many cases relating to health-care procurement irregularities, whistle-blowers reported that senior officials at health facilities were involved in every facet of procurement, ensuring that companies they had ties to were awarded lucrative tenders.

“One report went as far as to claim that an executive officer was so heavy-handed in the management of a hospital that they dismissed employees who questioned tender irregularities.

“Having replaced key supply chain personnel, it is alleged that the officer has since specified which companies must be awarded cleaning, catering and maintenance contracts,” said the report.

The latest report is based on almost 2,000 complaints submitted to the organisation  during the first half of 2020.

“Compared to the same period last year this is an increase of over 400 reports received — not surprising, given the exposure of rampant corruption in Covid-19 procurement. This has enraged ordinary people trying to survive the global pandemic,” read the report.

“In an ailing society such as ours where the gap between the haves and the have-nots is incredibly vast, we find ourselves pedalling in much deeper, wilder and murkier waters. Inequality and poverty increase, leaving tens of millions of people unprotected, without adequate health care, education and shelter — exactly what our reporters are experiencing.”



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