Sanco calls on health MEC to step aside as tender irregularities investigated
Johannesburg - The South African National Civic Organisation (Sanco) in Gauteng on Monday called for embattled MEC for Health Bandile Masuku to “step aside” as law enforcement agencies, including the Special Investigating Unit, investigate 90 companies possibly involved in Gauteng Health Department procurement irregularities.
The Sunday Independent has reported that President Cyril Ramaphosa’s spokesperson Khusela Diko’s husband, Amabhaca King Madzikane II Thandisizwe Diko, was awarded plum contracts worth R125 million to supply personal protective equipment (PPE) to the Gauteng Health Department for the Covid-19 pandemic.
On Sunday, the weekly reported that the wives of Masuku and the Amabhaca royal house are close friends who served as each other’s bridesmaids at their respective weddings.
Sanco Gauteng chairperson Chris Malemetja told African News Agency that because of the “dark cloud”, Masuku must step aside and allow the investigations to vindicate him.
“Masuku is a member of the ANC, and the ANC has a resolution which says whoever has a dark cloud hanging over his or her head in relation to a corruption allegation, that person must just step aside until the whole thing is done. In this instance, Masuku must just be aside so that we are able to see what is really transpiring in that office,” said Malemetja.
“Remember, Masuku’s primary duties when he assumed office was to ensure a smooth, clean, transparent running of governance. Now he cannot speak as if he didn’t know and he doesn’t know what is happening. That on its own is negligence. We are left with no option but to call for him to step aside.”
The ANC in Gauteng was on Monday reportedly meeting to discuss the alleged looting in Covid-19 tenders in the province. Malemetja said “talk shows” are not what is needed amid the alleged widespread looting in a time of national disaster.
“We are not aware that the ANC is sitting today to talk about this. If that is the case, the question is, why did it take them so long for them to react now? That doesn’t bring confidence amongst the masses who take this issue very seriously. We would like not necessarily to hear about talks, we want to see action. This thing of talking, talking and setting up committees is long overdue,” said Malemetja.
Following the media reports, Masuku on Sunday issued a statement saying he formally requested a forensic audit into Covid-19 procurement and Gauteng Premier David Makhura subsequently requested the Special Investigating Unit (SIU) to undertake the ongoing investigation.
“The SIU investigation commenced in May 2020 and the premier’s office will announce the findings as soon as they become available. As the originator of the process, I wholly support the SIU’s investigation. If evidence of corruption is found at the Gauteng Department of Health, action will be taken, and offenders prosecuted,” said Masuku.
“Those found guilty of fraud and/or the misappropriation of funds at the department will face the full might of the law. As a member of the (Gauteng) executive council, I am not involved in, nor do I influence the department’s procurement processes.”
Meanwhile, the Progressive Professionals Forum in Gauteng said if the statement of the provincial health authorities is true, then Masuku should be commended for being proactive.
“In a province and a country that upholds the rule of law, firstly the law must take its course. Pursuant to this approach and to an extent that the official statement of the health department is a true reflection of the facts, we wish to commend the MEC of Health in Gauteng for being proactive by initiating the process which led to these revelations,” said Sasabona Manganye, PPF Gauteng provincial secretary.