Collusion, cadres and corruption : a critical study of the procurement sector and corruption in local government : the case of eThekwini Municipality.
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Corruption is a complex and multifaceted phenomenon that takes various forms and functions in different settings. With the transition to a democratic dispensation in South Africa, there has been an escalation in corruption which is frequently associated with the manipulation of tender practices in the public procurement sector. The aim of this study was to critically investigate corruption in the procurement sector in local government with specific reference to the case of the eThekwini Municipality. The objectives of the study were: to review international trends in corruption in the procurement sector; to investigate specific cases of corruption in the procurement sector in the eThekwini Municipality; to assess the social, economic and political implications of corruption in eThekwini Municipality; and to examine the instruments and mechanisms that are used in preventing, detecting and responding to corruption and the effectiveness of such measures. Influenced by the Human Rights based approach, this study adopted a qualitative approach. This study found that corruption in the public procurement sector in the eThekwini Municipality is rife. The Supply Chain Management (SCM) faces numerous challenges including councillors and officials conducting business with eThekwini Municipality; councillors and officials incompetency due to limited knowledge of policy; unauthorised, irregular and wasteful expenditure; abuse of Section 36; unfair procurement process; inadequate and inefficient contract management and inadequate SCM controls. Hence, the SCM is synonymous with loopholes, kickbacks, cronyism and „tenderpreneurship‟. Numerous social, economic and political consequences of corruption were evident in this study, however, the main result of corruption in the procurement process is poor service delivery to citizens. This has resulted in human rights violations and citizens taking to the streets in violent service delivery protests in order to highlight their grievances regarding the poor quality of life they experience. It is the poor of the eThekwini Municipality who face the detrimental impacts of corruption as they are reliant on the government for basic services for their survival. A holistic approach to corruption needs to be adopted in order to fully address this pandemic. An area that needs serious attention in procurement reform is blacklisting. Councillors and officials need to be educated about corruption and ethics. Greater oversight and transparency is needed throughout the procurement process to allow for fair and an equitable distribution of tenders in the Municipality.