Gauteng Premier David Makhura has been cleared of allegations that he was involved in Personal Protective Equipment (PPE) procurement corruption.
Guns were drawn for the Premier after the Special Investigating Union’s Special Tribunal omitted to include the words “Office of the Premier” in a damning judgment that found some officials in Makhura’s office manipulated the awarding of PPE contracts.
They did this by apparently giving the office’s former Chief Financial Officer, Kabelo Lehoenya, names of companies to be appointed as service providers for PPE.
Makhura then moved swiftly to request that the judge in the matter corrects the error, which was promptly done.
“I am happy that the statement has been corrected, making it clear that there were no allegations made against the Premier’s involvement in the PPE procurement allegations,” he says.
This comes amid calls for the premier to vacate office, with some alleging that various governance failures, including the Esidimeni tragedy, happened under his watch and he was never held to account for them.
The Special Investigating Unit is investigating the R431 million spent by the Gauteng Education department on deep cleaning and saniters, among other things.
Gauteng premier David Makhura revealed this during a provincial command council briefing on Friday.
The move follows an internal report that shows that the department spent R431 million on sanitation and other COVID-19-related services to schools.
Makhura has rejected insinuations that MEC Panyaza Lesufi might have been involved in the misappropriation of the COVID-19 funds.
“What happened here was there value for money in Education, you can’t just tell without thorough investigation. Who is doing that investigation is the Special Investigating Unit and I know that in addition, MEC Lesufi has said to me that we should task he Auditor General office, and as far as I am concerned, the office of the Auditor General have been working closely with the SIU,” adds Makhura.
“At the moment, there is no allegations that the MEC for Education has a deal in this R400 million and he brought his people there.”
Lesufi has also expressed shock at the exorbitant spending and called for a probe.
Meanwhile, Premier Makhura has denied allegations that he influenced the awarding of COVID-19 PPE contracts to six companies to the former Chief Financial Officer, Katlego Lehloenya.
The Premier says he noted an error in a SIU report that implicates him and has asked the unit to investigate the matter.
On the ANC Youth League’s call that he be probed for fitness to hold office, the Premier says he avail himself to the ANC’s Provincial Integrity Committee should he be required to will do so.
The youth league has welcomed the move, while at the same time reiterating its call that the Premier step aside until he has is cleared of any wrongdoing.
The young lions also wants MEC Lesufi to do the same.
The Democratic Alliance in Gauteng on the other hand wants Makhura to vacate office.
The party has written to the Speaker of the Johannesburg City Council, requesting that she convenes an urgent sitting to debate a motion of no confidence in Premier.
Former Gauteng Health MEC Dr Bandile Masuku has filed legal papers in the High Court in Pretoria.
He is seeking an urgent hearing over a Special Investigating Unit’s report that led to his sacking.
The former MEC wants the report declared unlawful and unconstitutional.
He was fired this month after he was found to have failed to execute his executive duties in the procurement of Personal Protective Equipment (PPE) for Gauteng Health.
A R124 million tender awarded to the Masukus’ family friend, Madzikane II Thandisizwe Diko, is among the controversies that sparked the battle. Diko is also the husband of Presidential Spokesperson, Khusela Diko.
While the preliminary report had not found Masuku to have exerted his influence in the matter – investigations are still ongoing and Gauteng Premier David Makhura has promised to reinstate the former MEC should he be proven innocent.
However, Masuku is having none of this and wants his name cleared urgently. He says he has been co-operating with the investigations – both at a party and government level; took a firm stance against corruption and ordered a probe into alleged PPE procurement irregularities back in April.
Presidential Spokesperson Khusela Diko is meanwhile on leave while investigations continue.
The Gauteng ANC Provincial Executive Committee (PEC) has ordered that both Masuku and Diko face a disciplinary process.
It has also suspended them from party activities pending the outcome of the disciplinary process.
Fired Gauteng Health MEC Bandile Masuku will challenge a Special Investigating Unit (SIU) report that got him sacked in court.
In a statement, Masuku says he has already instructed his lawyers to apply for the report’s review.
Earlier on Friday, Premier David Makhura said the report found the medic to have violated the Constitution and the Public Finance Management Act (PFMA).
The findings relate to the procurement of Personal Protective Equipment (PPE) at the Gauteng Health Department.
Masuku, however, insists that he is innocent, rejecting the report as one like a smoking gun in a movie with smoke and mirrors.
“The SUI report makes incorrect and non-factual findings about my role as Executive Authority. It is unclear whether the report is final. To this I have written to the Premier to explain to him that in fact and in law, I will be exercising my rights in law to review findings in a court of law to set them aside,” the former MEC says.
He believes the SIU made the findings due to public pressure from the public outcry over PPE corruption and the need to ensure accountability.
EFF welcomes Masuku’s sacking
The Gauteng leadership of the Economic Freedom Fighters has welcomed Makhura’s decision.
The party is urging Premier Makhura to also fire Masuku from the provincial legislature, saying all those found guilty of graft at Gauteng health should be dismissed with immediate effect and face the full might of the law.
The EFF says it has opened a criminal case against Masuku and his wife, Loyiso.
Masuku’s wife is City of Johannesburg’s MMC for Group and Shared Services. She is on special leave over allegedly influencing the awarding of a multi-million rand PPE contract to the Royal Bhaca Projects, a company owned by Presidential Spokesperson Khusela Diko’s husband, Madzikizela II Thandisizwe Diko.
A forensic probe said to have been commissioned by Gauteng Health has, however, absolved the Masukus of any wrongdoing.
It was, however, scathing against Diko’s husband, saying “if a negative conclusion was to be drawn, in respect to the Diko/Masuku friendship, it should be against Mr Diko who appears not to have been receptive to the notion that he was conflicted to do business with Gauteng Health, as a result of his marriage to an old friend of Mrs and Dr Masuku. Mrs Diko would also have been wise to alert her friend, that her husband was involved in supplying PPE to GDoH.”