#MakhuraPPE: DA challenges Premier Makhura to reveal action taken on PPE Looters

The Democratic Alliance (DA) in Gauteng is challenging the Gauteng Premier, David Makhura to reveal the actions that he has taken against the Gauteng personal protective equipment (PPE) looters.

So far nothing has been done to the looters as they continue to walk free and enjoy their daily lives despite the Special Investigative Unit (SIU) report exposing all the money that they have stolen from the people of Gauteng.

Premier Makhura claims that he has acted against the former Health MEC, Bandile Masuku, former Acting Head of the Gauteng Department of Health, Professor Mkhululi Lukhele and former Chief Financial Officer of the Gauteng Department of Health; Ms Kabelo Lehloenya. If his claims are true, then why does the SIU report state the following on page 231: 

 No recommendation for disciplinary action could be made against the former CFO, Ms Lehloenya, as she had resigned from the services of the Gauteng DoH with effect from 1 August 2020. No recommendation for additional disciplinary action could be made against Prof Lukhele (the HoD of the Gauteng DoH), because he resigned with immediate effect on or about 3 October 2020.”

The above evidence indicates that officials have resigned as a way of escaping accountability even if the Premier had forced them to resign. 

The fact that the officials have resigned does not mean that the Premier has taken action, criminal charges must be laid against them. 

Furthermore, there are no criminal charges that have been laid against the former Health MEC, Bandile Masuku for the role that he played in irregularly awarding the Royal Bhaca Projects (Pty) Ltd and Ledla Structural Development (Pty) Ltd a contract to supply PPE. 

The SIU report findings also state that the former MEC failed to fulfil his obligations to comply with the Constitution and failed his general oversight responsibilities in respect of his department failing to comply with the prescripts of the Constitution.

In addition, the Premier claims that the pension fund of the former MEC Masuku, Lukhele and Lehloenya were frozen so that the Gauteng government can recoup some of the stolen funds. We demand evidence to support this claim.

If Premier Makhura is serious about acting against those implicated in the Gauteng PPE corruption and those that have failed in their oversight role, why has he not acted on the Gauteng MEC for Education, Panyaza Lesufi?

The Gauteng Department of Education has irregularly awarded contracts to the value of R427 686 242.29 to 270 service providers for decontamination of Gauteng schools. All this happened under the watch of MEC Lesufi who is the political head of the department. MEC Lesufi, like former MEC Masuku, has failed in his oversight responsibilities to ensure that his department complies with the prescripts of the Constitution and supply chain management processes. Perhaps, former MEC Masuku became an easy victim because he is a political lightweight compared to MEC Lesufi who enjoys the support of a bigger constituency in the ANC across the province. If this is true, then it’ll also expose that taxpayers interest takes a back seat while cadre’s protection is paramount.

 We demand that Premier Makhura must lay criminal charges against all those implicated and recover all the monies that have been stolen from the Gauteng government. We also demand that Premier Makhura provide evidence on what actions he has taken against the looters as a matter of urgency.

Death of whistle-blower in PPE tender scandal an indictment on the Gauteng government

The failure of the South African Police Service (SAPS) to protect key whistle-blower, Babita Deokaran in the Personal Protection Equipment (PPE) scandal is a clear indictment on the Gauteng government.

Babita, who was the Gauteng Department of Health’s Chief Director of Financial Accounting officer was brave and courageous enough to come forward with information on corruption in the PPE tenders, instead, she was rewarded with a hail of bullets.

This week I have written to the Ahmed Kathrada Foundation to assure them that we will continue to put pressure on the provincial government to release the Special Investigating Unit’s (SIU) reports on the various investigations they have undertaken in the province including that of the procurement of PPE in the province.

This is worrying and is a huge setback in the fight against corruption in government and the public sector.

It is clear that our country is being held hostage by an ingrained culture of corruption and criminality which has now reached the point of no return.

The rot in our government needs to be exposed and now is the time for all parts of society, civic organisations and political parties to unite against the scourge of corruption.

Babita’s death cannot be in vain, and the DA will continue to expose the rampant looting of our government departments and entities.

Local Government Elections are coming up! Visit check.da.org.za to check your voter registration status. 

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.

ANC unlawfully refuses to schedule DA motion of no confidence in Premier Makhura, indicates split ANC caucus

The Democratic Alliance (DA) in Gauteng is apalled that the ANC in the Gauteng Provincial Legislature (GPL) have unlawfully refused to schedule the DA’s motion of no confidence (MONC) in Premier David Makhura, to a debate and subsequent vote.

Late last month, the DA tabled a MONC in Premier Makhura after it was revealed that his office had directly influenced the appointment of service providers for Personal Protective Equipment (PPE) last year.

Further to this, Premier Makhura and his government have affected governance failure after failure since the start of their term in May 2019, and blatantly demonstrated a lack of political will to root out corruption and build a capable provincial government.

The obstruction by the ANC of a constitutionally-recognised mechanism is an insult to the system of participatory democracy that the voters elected us to uphold in 2019.

Further to this, refusing to schedule the DA motion, citing that the motion must first be deliberated by the Whippery of the Legislature, undermines the Rules of the GPL by hampering a Member to participate in the business of the Legislature that is consistent with democracy.

Such legal opinions on the matter that support our view have already been furnished to the Speaker of the Legislature, Ntombi Lentheng Mekgwe.

The decision on the DA’s motion very clearly indicates a split ANC caucus. If the ANC was certain they held the majority of votes to defeat the motion, they would respect democracy and allow the debate and vote to go ahead.

One only needs to remember the explosion of PPE and Covid-19 related corruption in the province last year, the failure of the Premier’s office to implement 86% of forensic investigation recommendations from the previous financial year, and the inability of Makhura to release the Bank of Lisbon fire criminal investigation report, to recognise that Makhura is indeed no longer fit to govern.

Just like the illegal and politically-driven Tshwane Municipality Council dissolution of last year, the DA remains on the right side of the law and will continue to fight for a MONC debate and vote in the GPL. Mahkura must, and will, be held accountable.

Fire at Carletonville hospital destroys PPE and equipment worth R20 million

The Democratic Alliance is alarmed that a fire at the Carletonville Hospital yesterday morning destroyed medical equipment and Personal Protective Equipment (PPE) worth about R20 million.

According to local DA councillors Devin Nieuwenhuyzen and Carlos Rebelo, the fire started in a storeroom at the hospital.

Photographs of the fire are here and here.

The equipment that was destroyed was supposed to be for the AngloGold Ashanti hospital which is being readied to treat Covid-19 cases.

Police are at the scene as arson is suspected.

An independent investigation is needed to determine whether this fire was due to negligence or sabotage.

This is a severe loss, and accountability is needed for the lack of preventive measures that allowed it to occur.

Note: Cllr Nieuwenhuyzen can be contacted at Tel: 074 286 4226

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.

Bara hospital battles Covid-19 with staff shortages and inferior PPE

The Chris Hani Baragwanath Hospital is currently treating 280 Covid-19 patients, the highest number in Gauteng, but is short of staff, and management is concerned that some personal protective equipment (PPE) is substandard.

This was revealed yesterday in a presentation by the hospital to the Gauteng Legislature’s Health Committee.

The hospital has 7 132 approved posts but 846 (12%) are currently vacant, including 8 out of 19 management posts (42%) and 167 out of 886 administration posts (20%). They are also short of 280 nurses and 71 doctors. This shortage is worsened by the high number of staff off sick because of Covid-19.

More staff is being hired, but according to the presentation “the funds allocated do not meet 50% of what was initially requested”, and the hospital “is trying to do more with less amidst Covid-19 infections amongst staff.”

Problems with PPE for staff include the following:

  • non-availability of stock from contracted suppliers;
  • sub-standard quality; and
  • long lead times of delivery.

This shows how the poor choice of PPE suppliers, which is probably because of corruption, has put the lives of hospital staff at risk.

Contractors are now rushing to complete 500 extra beds at Baragwanath hospital in addition to the 480 beds designated for Covid-19 patients out of 2680 total beds. But these beds will require staff that have not yet been hired by the hospital.

Other public hospitals in Gauteng face similar challenges. The reality is that years of neglect and poor staffing in our hospitals is hindering the fight to save as many lives as possible from the Covid-19 pandemic.