Govt pays Blessing Qwabe R500 million for supplying masks and sanitizers

Govt pays Blessing Qwabe R500 million for supplying masks and sanitizers
ROSES ON MAINSTREET: A tenderprenuer from the small mining town of Barberton who goes by the name of Blessing Qwabe has been the biggest beneficiary of the Covid-19 state of disaster, raking in half a billion rand in tenders during the initial lockdown, profiting around R430 from the global pandemic. PICTURE BY Facebook

Questions are being raised about his company getting huge amounts despite not being listed as a supplier of cleaning items with the National Contract Cleaners Association or being on the South African Health Products Regulatory Authority’s (Sahpra’s) database as an accredited supplier of PPE.

A multimillionaire from Barberton known as Blessing Qwabe was paid just over R500 million by the South African government to supply masks and hand sanitisers for the SA police service last year.

The man who flashes expensive watches on Facebook and who appears to be well connected to powerful ANC politicians said the money – R515 million in total – was paid in April 2020 as part of the Covid-19 “emergency procurement” after work was delivered within a 30 day period.

Qwabe trades through a company called Red Roses Africa, which he registered in 2007 and is super-rich.

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Maverick Citizen has found that Qwabe, the highest paid Covid-19 tenderprenuer, received the payment of R515 million through two companies, Red Roses Africa (Pty) Ltd and Mainstreet 699 – one of them, Mainstreet 699, found to be having no record on the Companies and Intellectual Property Commission (CIPC).

The information is published by national treasury, listing companies it has awarded work to and paid for Covid-19 related work.

The information shows that a total amount of R16.304-billion was paid by government for Covid-19 tenders nationally.

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Qwabe charged government R5 405 per 25-litre of sanitizer, which cost around R1 000 – causing government to pay R486-million to Red Roses Africa, instead of R90-million had the prices not been inflated.

“We delivered all products within the stipulated 15 and 30 days, respectively and were paid in full,” Qwabe is quoted saying on Maverick Citizen, adding that the information on the payment can also be found on the Auditor-General’s report on Covid expenditure.

But this has been found to be untrue as the report didn’t mention any money spent by government for the police organisation.

Qwabe’s companies also received work from the IEC, giving him a combined amount of R600-million with the SAPS payment and making him an instant super rich businessman.

And for a company as small as his, these payments raise eyebrows and serious concerns of overpricing.

Instantly super-rich man Blessing Qwabe

Last year September when national treasury released its draft audit report, Red Roses Africa was not listed as one of the companies that did Covid-19 work with government – only Mainstreet 699 (Pty) Ltd was shown but today Red Roses Africa is listed by the national treasury on its online list of Covid-19 expenditure as the largest recipient of SAPS’s massive PPE tender.

“[When Covid-19 started last year] we were concerned about the lives of our members, not about price,” said South African Policing Union national secretary Tumelo Mogodiseng when speaking to the paper.

The SIU and Hawks said they don’t have any case being investigated against Qwabe.

(edited by ZK)

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