Health Minister Zweli Mkhize has decried how corruption, particularly in pricing and tender irregularities, has become an “added burden” in the fight to save lives from Covid-19.
“…I must take this opportunity to highlight the added burden of corruption which has unfortunately reared its ugly head during this crisis,” the minister said on Monday.
He was concluding his keynote address for the high-level panel discussion on the economic impact of Covid-19 in Africa organised by the Center for Global Development, the Global Fund to Fight AIDS, Tuberculosis and Malaria, and the African Union.
The discussion focused on longer-term health and social consequences of the outbreak, as well as how global cooperation and the international response to the pandemic may evolve going forward.
Mkhize assured the panel of most prominent voices on economic development and global health that the SA government had taken a strong stance against corruption.
“…we have taken a strong stance against corrupt activity during a time when we should be focusing on saving lives and livelihoods. As a continent we must stand together to take on these destructive forces and set up mechanisms that fully deter people from engaging in corrupt activity in the first place,” he said.
The country’s ruling party, ANC, has had its senior officials embroiled in PPE corruption scandals, with Gauteng health MEC Dr Bandile Masuku alleged to have influenced the awarding of an R125million contract to Royal Bhaca Projects – a company owned by Thandisizwe Diko.
Diko also happens to be the husband of President Cyril Ramaphosa’s spokesperson, Khusela Diko, and the Masukus and Dikos are family friends.
Masuku’s wife, Loyiso – a Joburg City councillor – is also said to be Thandisizwe Diko’s business partner.
On Monday, the ANC in Gauteng was expected to announce its decision on Masuku’s future after its provincial executive committee (PEC) meeting over the weekend.
Auditor-General Kimi Makwetu has made damning findings against the Gauteng health department for awarding PPE contracts after the outbreak of the Covid-19 pandemic.
In the preliminary report handed to law enforcement agencies, Makwetu singled out Gauteng among provinces which have awarded large contracts to companies, some only established after the outbreak of the virus, with no track record.
Mkhize said the struggle for the complete emancipation of Africa and her people continues, saying: “We cannot afford to allow Covid-19 to give us excuses to regress from our goals. We must now redouble our efforts as we strive towards attaining the Sustainable Development Goals and the African Union Agenda 2063.”