Court judgment confirms Masuku’s political negligence

The North Gauteng High Court’s dismissal of former Gauteng Health MEC Bandile Masuku‘s application to set aside the Special Investigating Unit (SIU) report into PPE procurement irregularities in the Gauteng Health Department confirms his political negligence in this matter.

Masuku is correct that no crime was directly linked to him in the SIU report, but absence of evidence is not evidence of absence, and further investigations may reveal a different story.

At this stage, we know that Masuku failed to stop the PPE scandal, which is confirmed by Judge Sutherland’s scathing remarks in his judgment.

According to Sutherland, Masuku was “deaf and blind” to the risks of alleged irregularities in his department, and his failure to read his emails was prima facie “a confession of unprofessionalism and dereliction of his duties.”

Judge Sutherland adds that Masuku’s “conduct shows a lack of judgment and diligence.”

Masuku is trying to rescue his political career, but this judgement shows that Premier David Makhura was correct to fire him as Health MEC.

A similar standard should be applied to other ANC politicians who have shamefully neglected their duties, including Gauteng Education MEC Panyaza Lesufi who failed to stop R430 million spent on unnecessary cleaning of schools.

Gauteng Premier rebuffed on reinstating Health MEC

The DA notes that the ANC Gauteng Provincial Executive Committee (PEC) has approved Premier David Makhura’s axing of Health MEC Bandile Masuku and has called for a new Health MEC to be appointed urgently.

This is a rebuff to Makhura who wanted to reinstate Masuku if the final SIU report cleared him of corruption as opposed to his failure to stop it in the first place.

I agree that we need a new Health MEC who is ethical and capable of fixing the deep rot in this department.

Makhura shares the blame for the failures in this department because he was the one who appointed Masuku and Professor Mkhululi Lukhele, the Head of Department, and he did not monitor them effectively.

The PPE scandal follows after the Life Esidimeni tragedy caused by Makhura’s disastrous appointments of Qedani Mahlangu as Health MEC and Barney Selebano as Head of the Department.

There are currently 28 senior management vacancies in the Department that need to be filled urgently.

Makhura should abandon cadre deployment and ensure that all new staff at the Gauteng Health Department are appointed purely on merit.

Gauteng Premier should rule out reinstatement of failed Health MEC

The Democratic Alliance (DA) notes that Gauteng Premier David Makhura has relieved Dr Bandile Masuku of his responsibilities as Health MEC because of an adverse SIU report finding, but has left the door open to reinstate him if the final SIU investigation clears him of acts of corruption or collusion in the PPE corruption scandal.

According to Makhura, the SIU has found that Masuku failed to execute his functions in compliance with the Constitution and the Public Finance Management Act (PFMA).

I am astonished that Makhura is prepared to overlook Masuku’s political failure as the SIU confirms the obvious fact that he failed to prevent the massive corruption that occurred.

Contravention of the Constitution and the PFMA is a serious matter, and the outcome in this case has been about R2 billion irregular expenditure and inferior PPE that endangered the lives of health workers in fighting the Covid-19 pandemic.

Makhura himself pointed out that senior officials were being disciplined or resigned because they did not take action to prevent the corruption. This surely applies to the political head as well.

It seems that Makhura wishes to rescue a friend and political ally rather than enforce high standards of accountability. This undermines the fight against future corruption.

The Premier should rule out any reinstatement of Masuku as Health MEC and appoint a new MEC who can fix the deep rot in this department.

DA gives Gauteng Premier 24 hours to reveal NASREC field hospital contract

Suspended Gauteng Health MEC Bandile Masuku threatened me last week with legal action if I did not retract within 24 hours my statement on the exorbitant costs of the NASREC field hospital.

I stand by the figures I gave – about R350 million spent on only 700 patients – as they were from official sources, but we need to know far more about the secret contract that was signed with the Johannesburg Expo Centre (JEC) which manages the NASREC facility.

This contract was signed in July and apparently runs from 1 August to 31 January next year. It was signed by Richard Makhumisani, the head of the Department of Infrastructure Development (DID), and Mkhululi Lukhele, the now-suspended head of the Gauteng Health Department.

DID MEC Tasneem Motara has written to the Chairperson of the Gauteng Legislature’s Health Committee in a letter dated 1 September that “The lease agreement is a confidential contractual document between the Department and the Service Provider.” She offers an arrangement to view the document at the Department’s offices but this will no doubt include confidentiality provisions as well.

It is unacceptable that this document is confidential as it deals with public money and any contracts awarded by the JEC to subcontractors should be done in a proper manner to obtain value for money. This includes contracts for security, catering, medical waste removal, furniture, back-up generators, and heating, ventilation and air-conditioning (HVAC).


Premier Makhura needs to confirm or deny whether the leasing contract with JEC includes the following:


  1. 1000 beds paid for at a tariff of R770 a day per bed for six months, which amounts to nearly R140 million, even if these beds are not filled with patients;


  1. A clause that does not allow for any refund of the above amount even if the agreement is cancelled;


  1. An infrastructure establishment fee of about R68 million for various furniture, HVAC and backup generators.

Masuku has defended the NASREC field hospital as a measure to ensure that beds were available for all COVID-19 patients if certain projections of the epidemic came true. But it was already evident from the Western Cape and the overseas experience that the worst projections were not happening and the epidemic in Gauteng was likely to peak in July rather than August/September as Masuku originally expected.

The real question is why a contract was signed so late into the epidemic and extending into next year, which was not predicted to be necessary by any serious modeling. Last month there were only about 21 patients at the NASREC facility which shows what a waste of money it has been.

I give notice to Premier Makhura that he has 24 hours to make the NASREC contract public, otherwise the DA will institute a Promotion of Access to Information (PAIA) application for this document.

Furthermore, the Auditor-General should scrutinize this contract to ensure that it is rational and legal in all respects, and the SIU should investigate whether all sub-contracts were properly awarded rather than given to connected people at rip-off prices.

Premier Makhura needs to show that the provincial government is not hiding anything and that all COVID-19 related contracts are investigated for possible corruption, including the NASREC deal.


Gauteng Premier should not wait for ANC report to fire Masuku

The Democratic Alliance (DA) notes the ANC in Gauteng has extended suspended Health MEC Bandile Masuku’s leave of absence by two weeks as they deal with the party’s integrity commission report.


It is disturbing that the ANC does not separate party and state when deciding Masuku’s fate. According to the Constitution only the provincial government has the power to suspend or dismiss him. 

Premier David Makhura should be firing him for failing to prevent the R2 billion PPE contracts scandal, instead of defending him within the ANC. This is an accountability issue, and he should be held to account.

His failure is far larger than the multimillion-rand PPE tender awarded to a company owned by Thandiziwe Diko, the husband of President Cyril Ramaphosa’s Spokesperson Khusela Diko, who is a family friend of the Masuku’s.

 Masuku should not have lied about the resignation of Chief Financial Officer Kabelo Lehloenya which he claimed was for personal reasons when he knew that she was avoiding disciplinary action because of the PPE contracts.

His task was to fix a department notorious for corruption, but he failed to appoint the right people and to uproot the corruption networks that jumped at the opportunity to loot the massive amount of money made available to fight Covid-19. 

There were other fishy contracts that he did not stop like the 73 security companies that were irregularly appointed in 2014 for a two year period and then extended month-by-month to the present at a cost of R2.56 billion irregular expenditure.

Nor did he pick up the R140 million contract awarded to Impela Alliances to do unnecessary financial work that was found to be irregular and cancelled after R17.2 million was already paid.

The wrangling of ANC factions should not delay Masuku’s dismissal for his lack of oversight in preventing massive corruption, which was also a finding of their own integrity commission.



Internal ANC politics should not absolve Gauteng Health MEC

According to reports there is an internal ANC battle over whether suspended Gauteng Health MEC Bandile Masuku should be cleared of involvement in the R2 billion PPE corruption scandal.

It appears that the ANC’s provincial integrity commission has made damning findings against him, including that he should have exercised better oversight in preventing the corruption, and did not address the conflict of interest arising from his wife’s friendship with Khusela Diko, President Cyril Ramaphosa’s spokesperson, whose husband scored a multimillion PPE contract.

Masuku has contested the findings against him so the report may be changed in his favour.

The ANC’s provincial executive committee has yet to consider the matter, but Masuku’s allies, which include Premier David Masuku, are reportedly seeking to save his political career.

Masuku’s fate should not depend on internal ANC wrangling.

It is clear that he is politically accountable for not preventing the corruption and he should therefore go.

It is particularly damning that he insisted that the Department’s Chief Financial Officer Kabelo Lehloenya resigned at the end of May due to personal reasons even though he knew she was facing disciplinary action for the fishy PPE contracts.

We are also waiting for the report of the Special Investigating Unit (SIU) to determine the true extent of the criminality in this matter.

Internal ANC politics should not absolve Masuku of his political accountability for the PPE scandal – he must go and real efforts made to clear out the rot in the Gauteng Health Department.

Lifestyle audits needed for ANC Gauteng politicians

Lifestyle audits are urgently needed for ANC Gauteng politicians in the wake of the PPE contracts scandal, starting with suspended Health MEC Bandile Masuku who is alleged in a twitter post to have recently bought a palatial house for R9 million in cash.

The post can be seen here.

The sources of Masuku’s wealth needs to be disclosed if this house purchase is confirmed.

I am reminded of the R7.2 million house in Bryanston that former Health MEC Brian Hlongwa bought in 2008 that court documents reveal was partly funded by companies that got contracts from the health department.

Premier David Makhura promised lifestyle audits for all ANC MPLs in Gauteng more than two years ago, but nothing has happened to carry this out.

I am aware that it is easy to make false allegations on social media, but much of this is believed because of deep public cynicism about ANC politicians on the take.

Public trust can only be recovered if all public officials are vetted for suspicious sources of income.

The DA in the Western Cape has pioneered lifestyle audits for its MECs, and Makhura should follow suit without poor excuses for delay in this matter.

Gauteng Health headless in the middle of a pandemic

The announcement that Gauteng Health MEC Bandile Masuku will be on leave of absence for at least four weeks in the wake of a tender corruption scandal exposes the complete brokenness of ANC rule in Gauteng. Real leadership cannot be expected from the appointment of Jacob Mamabolo as acting Health MEC at this crucial time as he has no health background or prior knowledge of this department.

Masuku was brought in to fix the long-running management problems in the Gauteng Health Department and was energetic in filling vacant hospital CEO posts and responding to certain pressing issues. Yet, he could not explain away the sudden resignation of Chief Financial Officer Kabelo Lehloenya at the end of May amidst allegations of PPE contract irregularities.

It is utterly incredible that this department is again embroiled in scandal a few short years after the deaths of 144 mental patients in the Life Esidimeni tragedy.

It seems that corruption is too embedded in the ANC to be easily removed, and the usual vultures swooped in to take advantage of the millions being spent to counter Covid-19. Meanwhile, many hospital staff do not have proper PPE and have become infected by the virus.

We now have a headless department in the midst of a pandemic, and Premier David Makhura should also be held accountable for this disaster. He appointed Masuku and failed to effectively monitor what was happening in his department. He failed with Life Esidimeni and he is failing now.

Where are the field hospitals in Gauteng?

As public hospitals in Gauteng struggle to cope with Covid-19 patients only one field hospital is partially operating and a number of private sector proposals have been ignored by the provincial government.

The NASREC field hospital opened without piped oxygen and proper equipment for 500 beds and a further 800 planned beds still need to be completed. Last week doctors and volunteers at NASREC had to plead for donations of oxygen concentrators to assist patients.

Another four sites have been identified for field hospitals but are not ready to take patients even as Covid-19 cases surge in the province.

It is also disappointing that the provincial government has not supported the proposal by 80 professionals who volunteered to establish a field hospital at the Gallagher Convention Centre in Midrand and said they could set it up in four weeks.

Another rejected initiative was that by Architects Boogertman and Partners to turn the FNB Soccer City Stadium in Soweto into a 1500-bed field hospital.

The missed opportunities and slow progress on field hospitals highlights the failure to use the lockdown period to prepare enough beds for the peak numbers of Covid-19 cases in Gauteng.

Why did Gauteng Health Finance Chief quit?

I am hugely concerned at the abrupt resignation of Kabelo Lehloenya, the Gauteng Health Department’s Chief Financial Officer.

This is a critical time as the Department faces the COVID-19 crisis and has to make speedy buying decisions that ensure value for money and avoid corruption.

Lehloenya was appointed in February 2018 and made some progress in improving the Department’s notorious financial management, but there is still a long way to go. For instance, only 66% of companies are paid within the required 30 days and R909 million of the budget was unspent at the end of the financial year on 31 March.

We need a proper explanation for Lehloenya’s resignation as there are allegations on Twitter of irregularities in the purchase of more than R100 million of Personal Protective Equipment (PPE). Did she resign in protest or was she implicated in some way?

We need to guard against corrupt interests taking advantage of the health crisis to enrich themselves in a department that has suffered grievously from massive corruption.