COSATU welcomes Cabinet’s approval of the long awaited Public Procurement Bill

The Congress of South African Trade Unions (COSATU) welcomes Cabinet’s approval of the long awaited Public Procurement Bill. 

This is a long overdue progressive bill that will lay the foundation for a single public procurement system across the entire state, e.g. departments, municipalities, entities and State-Owned Enterprises.  Currently there is no single public procurement legislative framework and as a consequence, the situation in many state institutions is akin to something from the wild west.  The existing legislative gaps were brought to a fore in 2022 when the Constitutional Court declared that Treasury lacked the legislative powers to set local content and Broad Based Black Economic Empowerment (BBBEE) public procurement criteria.  The Zondo Commission heard countless evidence of how our leaky public procurement systems enabled industrial scale corruption and wasteful expenditure.

COSATU engaged extensively with Treasury and business on the Bill at Nedlac.  We are pleased that we were able to reach consensus on many key interventions and the majority of the Bill’s provisions.  COSATU’s support for the Bill is premised upon its:

  1. Establishing a single public procurement framework for the entire state.  This will enable common standards to be established against an often fragmented and chaotic government institutions.
  2. Requiring public procurement processes take into account and support local content and BBBEE.  This is key to supporting and creating local jobs and transforming our still racially skewed economy.
  3. Requiring a single online portal be set up where all tender information will be available to the public.  This will shine a massive spotlight on an often murky world of tenders and help to expose and discourage corruption.
  4. Enabling the centralised procurement of certain key items to enable the state to save the fiscus badly needed revenue.
  5. Empowering the Chief Procurement Office in Treasury to intervene and halt public procurement that falls foul of the law.  This will be a powerful tool to tackle often openly corrupt government tenders.

Whilst the Federation supports this critical anti-corruption bill and looks forward to its passage by Parliament, we believe that the Bill and its regulations need to be strengthened to incentivise whilst blowers who expose corruption.  This will be key if we are to turn the tide in this existential battle.  The Bill and its regulations also need to require the disclosure and recording of any relatives of politically influential persons who receive tenders as a way of preventing the abuse of public procurement by persons in senior office.

It is critical that the Cabinet Secretariat immediately table the Bill at Parliament for its consideration and processing.  We cannot afford any further delays in beginning the rebuilding of our public procurement system.

Issued by COSATU

For further information please contact:
Matthew Parks
Parliamentary Coordinator
Cell: 082 785 0687