Deputy President David Mabuza on Thursday said the government had put in place measures to prevent corruption and wasteful expenditure in the procurement and distribution of Covid-19 vaccines.
Responding to oral questions in the National Council of Provinces (NCOP), Mabuza said there was a corruption risk plan in place.
He said the inter-ministerial committee (IMC) had identified potential risks in the procurement and distribution of the vaccines.
Mabuza said they had the ability to monitor and address the challenges where picked up in the procurement of PPEs where there were multiple suppliers and non-conformity to quality of products.
“We have a multi-disciplinary team that reports weekly and tracks acts of corruption.”
He told the delegates to the NCOP that unlike PPE, the vaccine market was limited and highly regulated with only a few manufacturers and regulators.
“In the case of acquisition of vaccines corruption is very limited because the manufacturers are limited. We are not open to be abused by unscrupulous suppliers,” the deputy president said.
Mabuza also said the procurement of vaccines was centralised and done by the Department of Health and that provinces would have limited functions.
“The provinces will use the selected service provider and distribution arrangement,” he said.
“There will be limited services required from the private sector. We are to use our available capacity as the government as far as possible to roll out and distribute vaccines to all vaccination sites,” he said.
According to Mabuza, the ICM had also identified risk and counter measures throughout the value chain of the vaccine programme.
The auditor-general would have access to the non-disclosure agreements entered into with manufacturers and suppliers.
The law enforcement agencies would conduct their work of combating crime and corruption, including the Fusion Centre.
Mabuza stated there would be registered centres for vaccination that would be publicised to the public.
“We have a communication plan developed for public awareness to conscientise our people on the danger of utilising unregistered centres.”
The deputy president stated they had learnt lessons from the procurement of PPE that the ability to monitor and address corruption was difficult but possible hence they came up with comprehensive measures in the risk mitigation plan.
“In the whole vaccination programme we must work together.”
He named the whistle-blower and anti-corruption units in the presidency and the Special Investigation Unit that could be alerted to any corrupt activities.
“We are confident of the measures we put in place and shall not spare efforts to optimally deliver on the needs for our people.”
Asked if they would ensure people in the public service who were responsible for the vaccination programme were people of integrity, Mabuza said the people manning the administration, storage and distribution of vaccines should be men and women with unquestionable integrity
He said there was no policy from the national Health Department to subject the responsible officials to integrity assessments because it was not a prerequisite.
He, however, said there was an electronic data system that will have names of people who will receive the vaccine and be registered.
“We think the data system will reduce the number of people who will jump the queues.”
Mabuza said every vaccine would be accounted for, doses would be calculated for each site and reconciled daily.
“We will know how many vaccines are at each site,” he said.
Mabuza urged the public not to take the vaccine anywhere except at the registered sites, and to be aware of unscrupulous people selling fake vaccines.