Late Sunday night, Gauteng health MEC Dr Bandile Masuku came out to dispute reports that he had been involved in procurement processes within his department.
The MEC defended himself, arguing that he only had requested that the department’s administration observe good governing principles.
“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 in a statement read.
Masuku said that he had formally requested a forensic audit into Covid-19 procurement and that the Gauteng premier subsequently requested the Special Investigative Unit (SIU) to undertake this investigation.
“The SIU investigation commenced in May 2020 and the premier’s [David Makhura] office will announce the findings as soon as they become available. As the originator of the process, I wholly support the SIU’s investigation.
“If evidence of corruption is found at the Gauteng department of health, action will 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,” he said.
He added that he was neither involved, nor had any influence on, procurement processes and that contracts are awarded by the Supply Chain Management function in the finance department.
“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; are identified and brought to book,” the MEC said.
Meanwhile, President Cyril Ramaphosa announced during his nation address last Thursday that he had signed a proclamation authorising the SIU to investigate Covid-19-related corruption.
The president confirmed that 36 cases related to Covid-19 corruption were being investigated and prosecuted, which included fraudulent Unemployment Insurance Fund (UIF) claims and overpricing of procurement and fake NGOs.
The matter prompted a response from Minister of Finance Tito Mboweni, with him calling on leadership to deal with those involved decisively “without fear, favour, or prejudice”.