Johannesburg - North West Premier Supra Mahumapelo has come under fire for his decision to institute a forensic investigation into corruption in his health department instead of allowing the Hawks to investigate.
The SACP in the North West broke ranks with the ANC, its alliance partner, and slammed Mahumapelo for his decision after reports that an alleged Gupta-linked company, Mediosa, was illegally given R180million worth of tenders without following proper tender procedures.
The North West health department allegedly gave Mediosa a prepayment of R30m in May last year, before the company arrived in the province, to provide mobile medical services in the rural towns of the province.
Expressing their outrage, SACP provincial chairperson Smuts Nathe described the awarding of a tender as a “pure crime”, saying “we can't be seen to be politicising crime”.
“The law enforcement agencies must act swiftly to investigate the corruption. They must investigate how the Guptas have used our province as their own fiefdom,” Nathe said.
He said the health department was under administration when the tender was given to Mediosa and those responsible for the awarding of the tenders should answer to the Hawks. Nathe also appealed to Health Minister Aaron Motsoaledi and President Cyril Ramaphosa to lodge an investigation into the state of government departments, especially health and the welfare patients in the province.
“They must not wait for another Esidimeni in the North West,” Nathe warned.
Mediosa chief executive Inish Merchant could not be reached for comment yesterday.
While the SACP leaders are seething, the ANC has welcomed Mahumapelo’s decision.
North West ANC acting provincial secretary Susanna Dantjie said her party supported the decision and said the party was calling “on those who will be doing the investigation to leave no stone unturned”.
“The people of our province deserve good public health services and it’s only when the health department is running efficiently that this will be realised,” Dantjie said.
She said ANC provincial officials were scheduled to meet the provincial health MEC, Dr Magome Masike, on Monday to get answers from him “as an ANC deployee”.
Mahumapelo’s decision was made despite two provincial committees - Scopa and the portfolio committee on health and social development under Madoda Sambatha in the North West legislature - taking a decision to lay criminal charges against the HOD of health, Dr Thabo Lekalakala.
Sambatha said they laid charges with the Hawks after Lekalakala admitted that a prepayment of R30m was paid to Mediosa.
“We took a decision to report the matter after Dr Lekalakala's confession before the portfolio committee. He also admitted that he and other staff members undertook a trip to India, seven days after the R30m was paid to Mediosa,” Sambatha said.
He said the last straw was when Lekalakala refused to produce a copy of the contract between the health department and Mediosa to Scopa and the portfolio committee.
EFF provincial chairperson Betty Diale said Lekalakala also admitted that a special grant in the health department which was meant to assist with the provision of antiretroviral drugs was diverted to pay the controversial Buthelezi Ambulances.
“The disgraced HOD further admitted that supply chain management processes were suspended in order to allegedly fast-track the corrupt tender,” Diale said.
DA spokesperson Dr Tutu Faleni said: “An internal investigation by the premier could be used by the political authorities in the province to cover up irregularities in the advanced payment of R30m to a Gupta-linked Mediosa mobile clinic."
The Saturday Star