Were the people of Gauteng robbed of R2,5 billion?

While people in Gauteng are vulnerable to the very dire risks of Covid-19, it is extremely concerning that the Special Investigations Unit (SIU) investigation has not yet revealed its report into possible corruption related to the building of Covid-19 related infrastructure.

In response to allegations of corruption, President Cyril Ramaphosa, instructed the SIU to investigate all government spending in terms of Covid-19 regulations. This included Personal Protective Equipment (PPE) as well as health infrastructure. As we now know, the PPE tenders were manipulated to unjustly enrich people connected to the ruling party and the question now being asked is whether the same manipulation was applied to tenders for the building of R2,5 billion worth of Covid-19 related infrastructure. This infrastructure was meant to bolster hospital capacity in response to the pandemic.

At the beginning of June, the provincial government had spent R2,01 billion of the original budget, with a further R513 million to be spent in the current financial year.

While the SIU has confirmed to the DA that the infrastructure projects that have been undertaken as part of the government’s Covid-19 response are under investigation, there has been no feedback on how this element of the investigation is going.

Extremely poor planning resulted in a budget of R589 million being allocated to create just 181 ICU beds at Anglo-Gold Ashanti when that amount of money could have built a whole new hospital from scratch. In addition, R264 million was spent on the now decommissioned Nasrec facility, where the majority of beds were not utilised, resulting in wasteful expenditure.

Despite the huge expenditure, many of the facilities have not been available to treat Covid-19 patients. Who knows how many people have become incredibly sick, or even died as a result?

The people of Gauteng have a legitimate expectation that the money they contribute via their taxes will be spent wisely for the benefit of all the people of this province.

The DA will not hesitate to hold the government to account to ensure that public funds are not stolen or wasted. We will continue to pressure the government and the SIU to provide information relating to the infrastructure spend as the people of Gauteng deserve to know exactly how their taxes are spent.

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