The Interface Between Public Procurement and Competition Regulation During the COVID-19 Pandemic: A South African Perspective

The current COVID-19 pandemic faced by South Africa and the world has had an impact on public procurement, calling for procurement strategies to be at the forefront of the response to fighting this global pandemic. This research finds that the relationship between public procurement and competition regulation to be twofold. Firstly, having regard to competition regulations and its objectives in the formulation of public procurement regulations, can improve efficiency and as such result in savings for the state. Secondly, the main principles that foster the integrity of public procurement can also render it prone to anti-competitive behaviour by market players. The COVID-19 emergency procurement took place in an environment where public procurement already had its challenges. The regulations issued in this period seem to have failed to mitigate concerns about inappropriate conduct by firms and public officials. The ineffectiveness of COVID- 19 regulatory framework is evidenced by the number of price gouging cases that the South African competition authorities have been seized with and prosecuted relating to the procurement of personal protective equipment (PPE) by the state. However, lessons can be learnt to ensure that the public procurement regime is improved, by ensuring that competition is at the core of it.

Sipho Mtombeni
Hlumani Mandla
Songezo Mabece
Tankiso Thibane
no 1
s. 19