Gauteng Premier David Makhura is set to deliver the State Of the Provincial Address following a challenging year due to the COVID-19 pandemic and corruption scandals.
PPE corruption scandals rocked the province, which saw the Health MEC Bandile Masuku being axed before the end of his term.
Makhura was also implicated but later cleared by the SIU.
He will highlight the provincial government’s service delivery action plan for the year ahead.
His speech will focus on the strategy to defeat Covid-19, reigniting Gauteng’s economic reconstruction and recovery and providing support and relief to those affected by the Covid-19 pandemic and GBV.
The Democratic Alliance (DA) Leader in the Gauteng Provincial Legislature, Solly Msimanga, has urged Makhura to allocate a budget for COVID-19 vaccines to help the province reach herd immunity sooner.
Msimanga says the province should directly engage all available suppliers to get more vaccines.
He was discussing the performance of Premier, David Makhura’s government over the past year ahead of the State of the Provincial Address (SOPA) on Tuesday.
Msimanga says the DA has formulated a few solutions for each provincial department to implement, that can help make service delivery more functional.
“We as the DA have formulated a few solutions for each provincial department to implement, that can help make service delivery more functional, considering the disastrous performance of this government during 2020. We call it the Getting Gauteng Back on Track Pack, that should help the province start getting back to some form of tangible functionality as we hope in the next 1-2 years, South Africa will be able to almost fully enter a post-Covid world,” says Msimanga.
He says Makhura should implement all the Auditor-General’s recommendations to ensure efficient and effective spending without corruption.
For the departments, Msimanga says the Department of Community Safety must make the Gauteng Traffic Police a 24-hour service.
“Ensure more coordination action between SAPS and the Metro Police to tackle gang crime throughout Gauteng such as Boko Haram in Tshwane and others. Work to reduce gender-biased violence through a multidisciplinary approach,” he says.
Msimanga has called on the Department of Sports, Arts, Culture and Recreation to appoint a permanent CEO of the Gauteng Film Commission to avoid further internal hostilities that result in irregular decision-making.
“Cut wasteful expenditure on unnecessary celebratory events. Implement consequence management where officials are failing to meet targets or where they are found to be acting in either a corrupt manner or wasteful manner against the good practice of public service,”
The opposition party also wants the Department of Education to immediately place all Grade 1 and 8 students who are yet to be allocated schools for the 2021 academic year.
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.
The Gauteng Education Department has expressed shock over a report of R431 million having been spent on COVID-19 services.
In a media statement, MEC Panyaza Lesufi says he is taken aback by the report, compiled by the Head of Department (HOD) and Chief Financial Officer (CFO), that the department spent millions on decontamination, disinfection, deep cleaning and sanitation of schools.
Lesufi has reaffirmed his commitment to leave no stone unturned on this matter and hold those who procured these services to account.
The department says it is engaging law enforcement agencies and Auditor General to investigate.
South Africa’s official opposition, the Democratic Alliance, has urged Gauteng Premier David Makhura to launch an investigation into the matter.
The news comes amid a Special Investigating Unit’s investigation into the procurement of Personal Protective Equipment in the province, which led to the sacking of the province’s health MEC, Dr Bandile Masuku. Karabo Tebele is a producer and newsreader for Voice of Wits.
The Democratic Alliance (DA) in Gauteng is calling on Premier David Makhura to take a special leave pending the outcome of the Special Investigating Unit’s COVID-19 Personal Protective Equipment (PPE) probe.
The calls comes after news emerged that former Gauteng Health Department chief financial officer, Kabelo Lehloenya, had implicated Makhura in the scandal.
In her affidavit at the special tribunal, Lehloenya stated that Premier Makhura gave her the names of the companies to appoint to supply and deliver PPEs in the province.
“The DA is not surprised to learn that Premier Makhura has been implicated in the awarding of the multi-million personal protective equipment (PPEs) tenders. This PPE corruption scandal happened under Makhura’s watch and he did not do anything to prevent it. The DA calls on President Cyril Ramaphosa to ask the SIU to urgently investigate these allegations levelled against the Gauteng Premier,” says the DA’s Gauteng leader, Solly Msimanga.
The Economic Freedom Fighters in the province has on the other hand called for Mkhura to resign over the matter, while the Cosatu affiliated nurses’ union, DENOSA, has urged him to take special leave.
In October, DENOSA Gauteng chairperson, Simphiwe Gada, said the union would work with Makhura once the SIU’s investigation is complete and his name is cleared.
The union says the Premier has a tendency of escaping accountability.
It has cited the Life Esidimeni tragedy, which claimed the lives of 143 psychiatric patients after the Gauteng health department moved at least 1 700 patients from Life Esidimeni facilities to ill-equipped NGOs and state facilities in 2016.
Four former senior government officials in the Gauteng Department of Health (GDoH) and two businessmen were granted bail by the Specialised Commercial Crime Court in Palm Ridge on Thursday
Sybil Ngcobo, former head of department and accounting officer for the (GDoH); Mmakgosi Mosupi, former Chief Director of Information and Communications Technology; Valdis Romaano, former Director of Supply Chain Management; and Obakeng Mookeletsi, Deputy Director General, Executive Support Program Manager, appeared on charges of corruption and contravention of Public Finance Management Act.
Ngcobo is out on R8 000 bail, Mosupi, Ramaano and Mooleletsi R25 000.
John Richard Payne and Phil Austin, and their respective companies, Ukwakha Dezign (Pty) Ltd and Life Channel Communications (Pty) Ltd, were also expected to appear alongside the four. Their warrants of arrest could not be executed as they are out of the country.
The matter relates to a 2008 tender for the provision of HIS and e – HR systems. Subject to confirmation of the funding by the Gauteng Treasury, the tender was awarded to the Baoki Consortium, which consisted of AME Africa (Pty) Ltd, Health System Technology (Pty) Ltd, AMETHST (Pty) Ltd and Equiton Investments (Pty) Ltd.
The estimated cost for the new HIS and e-HR systems was R630 million. However, the final total value of the tender awarded to Baoki Consortium was R1 045 174 125.12.
A company called 3P Consulting (Pty) Ltd (3P) was appointed by the GDoH to manage various contracts on its behalf. A Service Level Agreement (SLA) was signed on 28 March 2008 between the GDoH and the Baoki Consortium.
The state alleges that on 23 May 2008, Mosupi and Mr Mookeletsi, together with representatives of the Baoki Consortium (AME, HST Technology and Equiton), signed a change order to allow Baoki Consortium, through AME, to procure the services for the provision of power (generators), furniture, network, computer literacy training and catering.
The value of the change order was R13 369 693.
“The services that were procured by Baoki Consortium as a result of the May 2008 change order were not services related to the original tender listed in the RFP. The change order was supposed to be a separate tender or to be procured internally by the GDoH on a tender basis. The supplier for the furniture as stated in the change order above was Ukwakha Design (Pty) Ltd (Ukwakha). This company was owned by Payne. This meant that the Baoki Consortium contract was managed by 3P, with Payne as one its directors. In turn, the sub-contracting company which supplied furniture, Ukwakha, was owned by Payne.
The negotiations for the HIS and e-HR rollout agreement for the GDoH was handled by 3P on its behalf. The rollout agreement needed a signature from the Gauteng MEC for Finance to be an effective agreement which can legally bind the Gauteng Provincial Government (GPG) for future financial commitments.”
Despite the need for the rollout agreement to be compliant with the PFMA, 3P and the health department allegedly failed to acquire the written authorisation from the Gauteng Provincial Treasury (GPT).
On the 27th of October 2008, the GDoH was warned in writing that it could not procure the services of the Baoki Consortium due to lack of funding thus future financial commitments would be in contravention of the PFMA and would not bind the Provincial Revenue Fund.
Despite the above warnings, Ngcobo and her two senior officials, Mosupi and Ramaano, allegedly signed the SLA on 03 November 2008.
After the signing of the rollout agreement, on 26 November 2008, Mosupi submitted a change order for the provision of Gauteng Wide Satellite Based WAN. There was subsequently a change order proposing to add services for the provision of a Gauteng Province Wide Area Network (WAN). The submission was recommended by Mookeletsi, on the 27th of November 2008. The RFP for the HIS and e-HR did not include the service of network connectivity as one of the services to be supplied or rendered.
In a motivation which was submitted by Mosupi, the National Prosecuting Authority (NPA) says it was recommended that the contract be awarded to TLC Africa VSAT Solution (TLC Africa).
A change order was signed on 16 January 2009 allowing Baoki to provide the service. On 12 February 2009, an SLA was then entered into and signed between Life Channel and AMETHST (a Baoki Consortium member). The contract value for the VSAT solution was R203 936 304.79.
No competitive bids were invited by the accounting authority although the value was above R500 000.
The agreement with the Baoki Consortium was cancelled during 2009. It is alleged that Life Channel, through its director, Austin, paid for Mosupi’s family to visit London and that the trip was facilitated through 3P.
AMETHST, member of the Baoki Consortium, is also accused of making several large deposits into a bank account in the name of Mookeletsi, totaling R300 000. Payne and Ukwakha Dezign are said to have covered the cost for the refurbishment of Romaano’s house to the value of R952 358.
The Hawks’ investigation follows that of the Special Investigating Unit in 2010.
Former SIU head, Willie Hofmeyer, has hailed the developments.
In a FaceBook post, he has said: “Well done to the Investigating Directorate!!! At last, action on the biggest Asset Forfeiture case done at the time (2010). Working with SIU and the National Treasury, we recovered about R1.4 billion that was being siphoned off by senior ANC members in Gauteng. Unfortunately I still do not know why the NPA in Gauteng did not prosecute the case. I hope the NPA will hold someone accountable for this. We tried to resuscitate it while Nxasana (Mxolisi) was head of the NPA, but he was removed before anything could happen.”
He adds that:” After that state capture go into full swing and nothing appeared to have been done to prosecute the case until now. Lots of strenght to the NPA team.”
The case has been postponed to 3 December.
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.”