Minister of Health Dr Aaron Motsoaledi File picture: Jacques Naude

Cape Town - Parliament's health portfolio committee on Saturday lauded Health Minister Aaron Motsoaledi for taking action in respect of the North West health department's mobile clinic contract with Gupta-linked company Mediosa, and expressed shock at North West premier Supra Mahumapelo's attitude in this regard. 

The committee believed the walkabout conducted by Motsoaledi in the North West to inspect the mobile clinics on Friday was a necessary intervention, committee chairwoman Lindelwa Dunjwa said.

“It is good when the minister is seen to be in the front-line when there are reports of alleged corruption taking place within the department. I would like to commend the minister on the stance he has taken regarding Mediosa mobile clinics,” Dunjwa said.

“We welcome the decision to put the head of department on special leave while the investigation is ongoing. This will ensure that as the administrator of the department does not interfere or influence the investigation.

Read: Guptas treated health department like an ATM, says Motsoaledi

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“Government cannot be seen to be taking a back seat when there are allegations of maladministration and a clear contravention of the Public Financial Management Act. We hope the investigation will bear fruits. I am shocked and disappointed by the reaction of the premier towards the minister’s visit in the North West,” she said.

Motsoaledi took a walkabout at the mobile clinic site in Setlagole, at Ratlou municipality on Friday. He announced that the contract would be terminated as it served no health service purpose for residents "except siphoning money from the health department to the Guptas". The Mediosa project was "an ATM card" for the Gupta family, he said. 

Last month, Mahumapelo said he would institute a forensic investigation in the provincial health department, including the Mediosa project. The department allegedly paid Mediosa R30 million upfront and made a further R180 million for the purchase of a single mobile clinic, while other service providers - who had done work for the provincial department - were told they would only be paid after the new financial year. This, said the department, was because there was no money to pay them. 

On Friday, Mahumapelo accused Motsoaledi of taking a "populist approach", and said he would rather speak to President Cyril Ramaphosa and the African National Congress than Motsoaledi about the mobile clinic contract. 

Mahumapelo said Motsoaledi arrived at the clinic "without courtesy to inform us". "Because he chose the populist approach, we will rather speak to the president in this regard and the head office of the ANC, Luthuli House," he said. 

On Saturday, Dunjwa said the health portfolio committee also welcomed the forensic investigation announced by Mahumapelo.

African News Agency/ANA