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MEC breaks silence on R125m PPE tender scandal

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Gauteng Health MEC Bandile Masuku denies allegations he influenced procurement processes

Gauteng Health MEC Bandile Masuku. File Picture: Bhekikhaya Mabaso / African News Agency (ANA)

GAUTENG Health MEC Dr Bandile Masuku has broken his silence regarding criticism over the province’s R125 million personal protective equipment (PPE) contract awarded to a man who is also a family friend.

As MEC, Masuku said he was not involved nor did he influence the department’s procurement processes.

The processes of awarding contracts within the department, he said, were vested with the supply chain management function in finance.

Masuku was responding to a Sunday Independent report which revealed that his wife Loyiso, was a close friend of President Cyril Ramaphosa’s spokesperson Khusela Diko, whose husband Madzikane II Thandisizwe Diko was awarded the R125m Gauteng contract.

Both Loyiso and Khusela were each other’s bridesmaids at their respective weddings.

On Sunday night, Masuku released a statement saying recent media reports implying that he was involved in procurement processes in the department were false and without foundation.

He said he had, throughout his career, always acted with utmost integrity and conviction.

Masuku said he valued his reputation, that of the department as well as that of the Gauteng provincial government and, as such, was obliged to set the record straight.

“Following the emergency procurement processes undertaken since the declaration of the National State of Disaster by the president in mid-March 2020, I requested that the administration of the department must observe good governance principles in the procurement process,” he said.

“A media statement issued by my office on Friday, July 24, 2020 confirms that I formally requested a forensic audit into Covid-19 procurement and that the premier subsequently requested the Special Investigative Unit (SIU) to undertake this investigation.

“The SIU investigation commenced in May 2020 and the premier’s office will announce the findings as soon as they become available.”

Masuku said that as the originator of the process, he wholly supported the SIU’s investigation and if evidence of corruption was found at his department, action would be taken and offenders prosecuted.

“Those found guilty of fraud and/or the misappropriation of funds at the department will face the full might of the law.

“As a member of the executive council, I am not involved in, nor do I influence the department’s procurement processes. The processes of awarding contracts within the department rests entirely with the supply chain management function in finance.

“It is now common knowledge that the Gauteng provincial government established a war room to drive the province’s Covid-19 pesponse plan with various work streams such as: Communications, Tracing and Care Management, Clinical, Logistics, Human Resource Management, Occupational Health and Safety, Finance and SCM, Infrastructure, Donations, Research, etc.

“Workstream members are based at the war room on a full-time basis. The Covid-19 war room was initially based at the Provincial Disaster Management Centre in Midrand and later moved to Ormonde in Johannesburg.

“Throughout my career, I have always acted with utmost integrity and conviction. I strongly refute any suggestion that Covid-19 procurement is being used as a means to raise funds ahead of ANC conferences.

“As MEC for Health in Gauteng, I remain committed to ensuring that our comprehensive health response is focused on saving lives. I will do everything in my power to ensure that anyone found to be stealing money meant for Covid-19 relief is identified and brought to book.“