Cape Town - Health Minister Zweli Mkhize has expressed concern over growing allegations of corruption relating to the procurement of Covid-19 personal protective equipment (PPE) which have seen Gauteng Health MEC Bandile Masuku being asked to step aside from his position.
Mkhize was on Wednesday morning giving a situational update on the spread and state of the fight against the global pandemic as South Africa marked exactly five months since the first confirmed case in the country on March 5.
He said there was no room to tolerate corruption in the procurement of PPE and other parts of the health service.
“I think the president (Cyril Ramaphosa) has made the statement very clear in this regard and the Cabinet and all ministers are quite firm on the fact that we are going to uproot corruption and we are determined to do so,” Mkhize said.
Mkhize said he was disappointed that Masuku, who was leading the government’s health response in Gauteng, which is the country’s epicentre during a peak period, had to be temporarily removed from his position as he was the subject of an investigation.
“We would not want to find the problem of corruption arising in the team that you are working with, and so the allegations have been made. The decisions have been taken in Gauteng and we have to respect those decisions. We are going to make sure that everything is done to properly investigate this matter,” he said.
At the heart of the allegations against Masuku is a R125 million contract awarded to Ramaphosa’s spokesperson Khusela Diko’s husband, Chief Madzikane II Thandisizwe Diko's Royal Bhaca projects by the provincial health department.
Masuku and his wife, City of Johannesburg shared services MMC Loyiso Masuku, who is alleged to enjoy both friendship and business ties with the Dikos, have been forced by the ANC provincial top brass to step aside as they will be subjected to the integrity commission.
He warned that those who were culpable would face the full might of the law.
“In this case it is indeed a concern that one of the members on our team of MECs, right in the middle of the surge has been asked to step aside, but it is only correct to do so when... the approach on dealing with this matter requires investigation,” he said.
He indicated that Masuku’s removal was a setback for his team, even though it was necessary.
“We would have loved to have the whole team working during this period. However, when there are serious allegations and challenges and such concerns, we have to understand that steps will be taken that might be uncomfortable but at the end of the day we have to strongly fight corruption at all levels,” he said.