The ANC in Gauteng is expected to reveal its decision on the future of its provincial Health MEC, Bandile Masuku, on Monday after its provincial executive committee (PEC) meeting over the weekend.
While the PEC over the weekend remained mum on discussions, speculation is rife that Masuku may go, should some in the committee have their way.
The much-awaited ruling also comes just after Auditor-General Kimi Makwetu earlier this month made adverse findings against the provincial Health Department for its handling of the allocation of personal protective equipment (PPE) after the outbreak of the coronavirus pandemic.
Makwetu singled out Gauteng as one of the provinces which gave huge PPE contracts to companies with no track record of supplying health services and equipment, some of which were only established after the outbreak of the virus.
Makwetu also said that some of these companies were registered on the government’s Central Supplier Database while the country was already under lockdown.
“Teams are still busy auditing the procurement processes, but are identifying matters such as suppliers not having valid tax clearance certificates, quotation and competitive bidding processes not being correctly applied, inadequate or inaccurate specifications and evaluation criteria and the incorrect application thereof, conflicts of interest, and the awarding of a contract in the health sector to a supplier with no previous history of supplying or delivering PPE.
“There are insufficient controls to ensure the receipt and payment of PPE at the levels of quality and price ordered.”
Makwetu is expected to give a final report on PPE tenders in November. He is expected to reveal who should be prosecuted. Makwetu has already handed his preliminary report to law enforcement agencies.
Adding to the embarrassment that the PPE did not reach its intended recipients, the alcohol industry on Sunday had to donate PPE worth R1.4million to Chris Hani Baragwanath Academic Hospital staff after a series of protests over a lack of PPE in their facility.
As the ANC grappled with a decision on Dr Masuku’s future after allegations that he influenced the awarding of a R125million contract to Royal Bhaca Projects – a company wholly owned by Thandisizwe Diko, the husband of President Cyril Ramaphosa’s spokesperson, Khusela Diko.
The Masukus and Dikos are family friends. Masuku’s wife, Loyiso – a Joburg City councillor – is also a business partner of Thandisizwe Diko.
Apart from its expected decision, the ANC and Gauteng Premier David Makhura are expected to decide measures to stop the rot in Gauteng Health.
Key officials in the Health Department are subject of a Hawks investigation, one of them being former chief financial officer Kabelo Lehloenya, as well as head of supply chain management Thandi Pino.
The Hawks’ Special Investigative Unit has already laid criminal charges, and at the same time lodged civil actions to recoup some of the funds paid to these dubious companies.
However, reports emerged over the weekend that ANC heavyweights were divided over Masuku. There was a group that wanted him out, but others were reportedly resisting the move.
Makwetu has also urged national and provincial government leaders to appoint credible people in key government posts. He also emphasised that those people should be registered with professional bodies.
As head of the provincial government, Makhura is expected to not only act on the PPE tender scandal but on other irregularities in the procurement of contracts and the hiring of security companies to protect health facilities.
In the past four years, Gauteng Health spent R2.5billion on the irregular appointment of security companies.