*Published in June 2019 by The Daily Maverick
By Hopolang Selebalo (Equal Education Co-Head of Research), Zukiswa Kota (PSAM) and Daniel McLaren (Section27)
Public contracting is the meeting point of significant power and money and in most countries, these systems are characterised by convoluted, opaque planning. According to a recent report by the Open Contracting Partnership, up to 20% of state procurement budgets for infrastructure may be wasted. Opening procurement data will help support public participation and foster accountable governance.
In February 2018, the erstwhile Minister of Finance launched South Africa’s first national open budget data portal, Vulekamali. This is an initiative between a coalition of civil society organisations known as Imali Yethu (“Our Money”), and the National Treasury.
The online portal aims to create greater transparency around public budget processes, as well as enhance civic participation. One of the key purposes for the development of this resource is to open up government performance and procurement data and in turn deepen accountable governance. Vulekamali has the potential to bring greater transparency to public procurement processes and to benefit both the public purse and service delivery alike.
The significance of monitoring public procurement cannot be overstated – Transparency International estimates that governments in African and other low to middle-income countries spend approximately 50% of public funds on procuring goods and services. In high-income economies, this equates to 30%. It is no surprise, therefore, that public procurement systems are highly vulnerable to corruption, leading to the mismanagement of public funds and malfeasance.
Read the full opinion piece here.