You are here: Covid-19
by Gerhard Papenfus
What recently transpired regarding the abuse of the Covid-19 opportunity by a very select group of business people, is not new at all.
Buying from the manufacturer of origin, exorbitantly marking up the price of the product to benefit as many as possible throughout the corrupt ‘value chain’, without adding any value, constituted, for two decades, the most popular manner in which ‘Radical Economic Transformation’ (RET) has been implemented. This approach was adopted during the weapons scandal and in almost all dealings involving State-Owned Enterprises, ESKOM, SAA, PRASA, Denel, in fact, all of them; and corruption largely contributed towards the failure of these institutions.
Since this is exactly what has transpired during the recent Covid-19 personal protection equipment (PPE) scandal, I find the sudden upwelling of dismay somewhat hypocritical. The modus operandi of the intended beneficiaries of the scandal, has not changed, only perpetuated, so why now the outcry?
Perhaps it is because people may perish as a result of not having access to this equipment, because of the outrageous markup, or because of it being sub-standard? This, however, is not new either. The misappropriation of money, self-enrichment and poor service delivery, over the entire spectrum, over many years, has cost the lives of many, both directly and indirectly.
The principle of best price for the best product has seldom been applied over the last two decades, especially in dealings between the state, state-owned enterprises and the new type of businesses, where self-enrichment, for as many as possible throughout the corrupt ‘value chain‘, is the only focus, and not in adding value of any kind.
Months ago, during the initial stages of the Coronavirus health issue, in addressing the KZN ‘Command Council’, the President said that the Covid-19 pandemic “quite frankly” gave South Africa an opportunity to reconstruct the economy and to ensure that Radical Economic Transformation “must underpin the economic future”.
Thus far the ANC has avoided explaining how they intended to utilise Covid-19 to achieve its RET agenda. However, it is probably very clear to those who stood to benefit from it. Therefore, one cannot be too hard on those unfortunate souls who may have construed the President’s message, and that of many others who jumped on that bandwagon, that the way to achieve this kind of transformation, was to continue with the tried and tested methods so ‘successfully’ utilised in the past; even until now.
These Covid-19 opportunists/tenderpreneurs must feel betrayed and dismayed now that this opportunity hasn't worked out well for them, especially after having been given ‘permission’, at least tacitly. At the very least, nobody has explained to them exactly how they were supposed to benefit from this radical new economic model.
A mitigating factor must be that they knew no other method, other than the example of so many in the ANC, in the highest echelons, who have also enriched themselves, in a very similar fashion, but without any repercussions.