DA welcomes new Gauteng Health Head

The DA welcomes the appointment of Dr Nomonde Nolutshungu as the new Head of the Gauteng Health Department.

This appointment by Premier David Makhura is long overdue as this key post has been filled by two acting heads since Professor Mkululi Lukhele left in October 2020 after being implicated in the PPE scandal.

Dr Nolutshungu faces multiple challenges in fixing a department that is notorious for corruption scandals and poor service delivery.

The rot runs so deep that Babita Deokaran, a senior health official, was gunned down last year because she was honest and opposed corruption.

Nolutshungu needs to ensure that the department’s R60 billion budget is spent efficiently and effectively. This can be achieved by following the recommendations in the Auditor General’s annual reports which regularly uncover massive irregular and unauthorised spending.

Another priority is filling all staff vacancies at hospitals as soon as possible, and refurbishing crumbling facilities.

Many patients are suffering because of an alarming increase in surgery backlogs, and lives are lost because of failures in cancer treatment.

Meanwhile, a likely 5th wave of Covid-19 cases places further strain on hospitals.

I look forward to interacting with Dr Nolutshungu to counter the threats as well as highlight opportunities to ensure a decent public health service in Gauteng.

Gauteng Health Head should be suspended

Gauteng Premier David Makhura should immediately suspend Professor Mkululi Lukhele, the Head of the Gauteng Health Department, who is implicated by the Special Investigating Unit (SIU) in the irregular award of PPE contracts according to a report in City Press newspaper today.

According to the report, damning evidence has been unearthed of price tampering, inflation of the value of goods, and collusion between Gauteng health officials and companies that were awarded lucrative PPE contracts.

This includes R80 million payments to a company owned by presidential spokesperson Khusela Diko’s husband, Nkosi Thandisizwe Diko. The Diko’s are family friends of suspended Gauteng Health MEC Bandile Masuku and his wife Loyiso.

The SIU has reportedly found that Lukhele failed to institute disciplinary processes against Lehloenya even after her “unlawful and irregular conduct” was reported to him.

Makhura has been inexplicably slow in suspending Lukhele who is the accounting officer for the department and was plainly derelict in his duty to ensure that proper procurement procedures were followed.

Last month I called for Lukhele’s suspension after it was revealed in a reply to my questions in the Gauteng Legislature that he

authorized the choice of a fishy company for a R140 million contract that was found to be irregular and cancelled after R17.2 million was already paid.

The SIU reports need to be made public and criminal charges instituted against all those implicated in corruption.

I welcome the SIU’s reported recommendation that Lehloenya and Lukhele pay back R29.7 million that was overpaid to Ledla Structural Development, a company used to channel money to Diko’s company Royal Bhaka.

Swift action is needed to recover funds and clean up the deep rot in this department, which needs new political and administrative leadership untainted by previous failures.

DA Lays Charges On Auditor-General Bribe Attempt

I have today laid charges against three officials in the Gauteng Department of Sports, Arts, Culture and Recreation (SACR) who allegedly attempted to bribe the Auditor-General’s office to remove audit findings on irregular expenditure.

The charges are based on two affidavits that were disclosed by former SACR MEC Molebatsi Bopape – who has been suspended by the ANC as a member of the Gauteng Legislature because she attempted to make a statement at a sitting on 30 September 2016 on corruption in the department.

Documents released by Bopape include affidavits by two senior employees of the Auditor-General of South Africa (AGSA), Mothophatleheng Phillip Rakgwale and Tshireletso Molate.

In his affidavit, Mr Rakgwale relates that Ms Morwesi More, an official of the SACR, came to the AGSA offices on 20 July 2015 together with the Head of Department Ms Namhla Siqaza to discuss findings relating to construction contracts.

Ms More then contacted him five times in connection with a proposal, and Ms Siqaza tried to persuade him on 28 July 2015 to meet with More, which he declined. Ms Siqasa then came to his office on 30 July 2015 to try and persuade him to change the audit outcome.

According to Rakgwale: “She asked me what could be done to remove the findings on the audit report and suggested political intervention to resolve the findings contained on the signed audit and management report issued on the 31 July 2015.”

In his affidavit, Mr Molate relates instances when he was approached by Ms Lorraigne Nuku, an official of SACR, who indicated that she was acting on the instruction of the Head of Department Ms Namhla Siqasa to determine what the HOD could offer to the Senior Manager in charge of the audit, Mr Phillip Rakgwale, to convince him to remove the audit findings regarding irregular expenditure from the audit report.

This includes the HOD telling him that she offered Mr Rakgwale anything he wanted including political intervention, which he declined.

The charge I laid today at the Commercial Crimes unit in Johannesburg requests investigation into the alleged contravention of Section 51 of the Public Audit Act which makes it an offence for any person to hinder or interfere with the Auditor-General or provide false or misleading information.

Furthermore, whether Ms Siqasa as Accounting Officer has contravened Sections 40 and 50 of the Public Finance Management Act (PFMA), which relate to her reporting responsibilities and fiduciary duties. A further charge is whether Siqaza, More and Nuku contravened Section 4 of the Prevention and Combating of Corrupt Activities Act which deals with corrupt activities in relation to public officers.

Premier David Makhura claims that he runs a clean administration, but the ANC is persecuting Bopape despite her efforts to expose corruption in the SACR.

While Siqasa and More have been suspended and are facing disciplinary action, this has not been speedily concluded and does not include criminal charges.

There is an unfortunate history in the provincial government where corrupt officials get away without facing criminal charges.

The DA will monitor the progress of police investigations to ensure that there is real accountability in this matter which has been so bravely raised by Bopape.



Media Queries:

Jack Bloom MPL

DA Gauteng Shadow MEC for Health

082 333 4222

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