South Africa: Cover-Up? Gauteng Government Retreats From Financial Transparency

analysis

Amid the condemnation of looting by the poor, the Gauteng provincial government has set a bad example by making it easier for the looting of public resources by well-off government officials. Its earlier commitment to transparency about Covid-related public expenditure has been reversed and replaced with a veil of secrecy enforced by officials who are no longer willing to share information with the media.

This week will mark exactly a year since a scandal erupted over corruption in the Gauteng health department in relation to the procurement of the personal protective equipment needed for the response to the gathering Covid-19 epidemic. Heads have rolled, including that of former MEC Dr Bandile Masuku.

In the wake of the scandal, Gauteng Premier David Makhura emerged to claim the high ground as a proponent of clean and transparent government; he repeatedly promised open finances, lifestyle audits and intolerance of officials implicated in corruption. One of the important reforms his government introduced was the Covid-19 Expenditure Disclosure reports, published monthly by the Gauteng treasury on the province's website (here).

The first report appeared in August 2020, covering April to July. A further six reports were published, providing accounts of expenditure during August, September, October,...

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