ANC Chief Whip Brian Hlongwa refused today to explain his advice to former Gauteng Health MEC Qedani Mahlangu that she go overseas following the deaths of former Esidimeni patients.
I challenged him in my speech on the debate on the Annual Report of the Premier’s Office to use the rule allowing personal explanation to explain his comments on Mahlangu in an interview with Power FM earlier this year.
His exact words were as follows:
“I spoke to her privately, you must leave the country, going into exile for two years.”
Hlongwa did not take the opportunity to explain his words but instead said he refused to have his agenda set by me.
It is profoundly disturbing that the ANC Gauteng Provincial Executive gave permission to Mahlangu to go overseas and study while the Esidimeni arbitration hearings are going on where her testimony is the most crucial of all for the grieving families.
Hlongwa’s advice to Mahlangu to go overseas fuels suspicions that she could further damage the ANC in Gauteng by revealing the true story about the Esidimeni deaths and other dark secrets in her long political career.
Life Esidimeni Contract
The ANC in the Gauteng Legislature’s Oversight Committee on the Premier’s Office and Legislature (OCPOL) has shielded Premier David Makhura from questions relating to his role in the deaths of more than 100 patients transferred to dodgy NGOs after the cancellation of the Life Esidimeni contract.
According to the minutes of a previous OCPOL meeting, the committee had agreed that an agenda item be included “to deliberate on the role of the Premier on the Health Ombudsman’s findings in the Esidimeni report.”
Premier Makhura appeared before the committee yesterday and gave a report on the implementation of the Health Ombudsman’s recommendations in his report.
But I was blocked from asking Makhura why he had not acted on the letter that Wits University occupational therapy students wrote to him on 18 January last year in which they warned about moving the patients from Esidimeni’s Waverley Care Centre in Germiston.
ANC Chief Whip Brian Hlongwa
I also wanted the Premier’s response to the claim made in the Ombud’s report by Dr Barney Selebano, the Head of the Gauteng Health Department, that “the decision to start deinstitutionalization of mental health care users from Life Healthcare Esidimeni was undertaken in the Office of the Premier of Gauteng, the Honourable David Makhura, together with the HoD”.
ANC Chief Whip Brian Hlongwa said that the committee should not be turned into a committee of inquiry on this matter, and Chairperson Godfrey Tsotetsi refused to allow me to put my questions to the Premier.
I am disappointed that the oversight committee is not fulfilling its role in holding the Premier and his office to account for the failure to effectively monitor the disastrous transfer of patients that led to the deaths.
Section 130 (3)
This was despite a plethora of media reports on the plight of the patients and complaints by the relatives, as well as two court applications where the Premier was cited as a respondent.
The DA will use other opportunities to hold the Premier to account, including a no-confidence motion that will table in the Legislature to force his removal in terms of section 130 (3) of the Constitution.
Jack Bloom MPL
DA Gauteng Shadow MEC for Health
082 333 4222
Open Tender Seminar
Gauteng Premier David Makhura must put his money where his mouth is and take definitive action against a host of government officials and Members of his Executive if he wants to retain any credibility for the remainder of his term in office.
At today’s Gauteng Provincial Government’s Open Tender Seminar in Midrand, the Premier remarked that those who are involved in corrupt dealings would be exposed in public, blacklisted and prosecuted.
While this is a welcome announcement, the fact is that the Premier has been making the same promise since he took office in 2014.
To date little action has been taken against errant officials, a fact which was echoed by the Public Service Commission’s (PSC) report late last year that only 3% of all provincial government officials involved in 122 cases of financial misconduct amounting to R67 million faced criminal charges.
Dark and Murky Process and Provincial Governments
Furthermore, the Premier has yet to take action taken against ANC Chief Whip Brian Hlongwa and Economic Development MEC Lebogang Maile, who are both under clouds of allegations of fraud and corruption.
Since taking office in 2014, the provincial government has been moving at a snail’s pace to open government’s tender processes – and in instances where tenders have been “open” to public scrutiny, the documentation was either published after the fact, or hidden so deeply in government websites that it would only be found after hours of dogged research.
The fact is that Premier Makhura talks the talk of an open and transparent government, but in reality it remains as dark and murky as all other provincial governments led by the ANC.
If Premier Makhura is as serious as he sounds, he should implement the DA-led Western Cape open tender system without delay.
Adriana Randal MPL
DA Gauteng Shadow MEC for Finance
060 556 4342