There must be no cover-up of fishy Gauteng PPE contracts

I am concerned by the disclosure in today’s Sunday Independent of close ties between ANC Johannesburg Councillor Loyiso Lugayeni-Masuku and President Cyril Ramaphosa’s spokesperson Khusela Diko, whose husband Thandisizwe Diko reportedly scored R125 million in contracts to supply Personal Protective Equipment (PPE) to the Gauteng Health Department.

Clr Lugayeni-Masuku is the wife of Gauteng Health MEC Bandile Masuku, which raises suspicions about improper influence in awarding the controversial PPE contracts.

According to photos on their Facebook pages, the Masuku and Diko families are close friends who attend events together, and the wives were bridesmaids at each other’s weddings.

ANC sources allege that the award of contracts to Thandisizwe Diko’s company Royal Bhaka Projects (RBP) was part of a fundraising strategy to assist Clr Lugayeni-Masuku to win the position of Chairperson of the ANC Johannesburg regional conference. She also seems to be ambitious to be Mayor of Johannesburg.

There now appears to be a witch hunt against finance and supply chain staff at the Gauteng Health Department by moving some of them to the NASREC command centre.

Premier David Makhura has promised to announce details of Special Investigating Unit (SIU) investigations this week, but I am skeptical that there will be real consequences for corruption.

We have seen far too many investigations drag on and never get to court. Ten years ago President Jacob Zuma signed a president proclamation for a SIU investigation into R2 billion fishy contracts at the Gauteng Health Department which implicated former Health MEC Brian Hlongwa, but no one has yet been charged. And where are the criminal charges against those who were culpable for the deaths of 144 mental health patients in the Life Esidimeni tragedy?

It is outrageous that anyone could seek to profit from the COVID-19 crisis in Gauteng, while health staff complain they don’t have enough PPE to protect themselves and many have become infected, placing further strain on our hospitals.

There should be no cover-up of any corruption in the PPE contracts and swift prosecution should follow for those involved.

I have tabled questions in the Gauteng Legislature concerning the fishy contracts and will insist on answers and proper accountability.