Eastern Cape Premier Oscar Mabuyane on Thursday morning announced that he had fired health MEC Sindiswa Gomba.
Cooperative governance and traditional Affairs MEC, Xolile Nqatha, has been appointed to act in the position, the premier said at a media briefing.
Mabuyane had been under pressure to fire Gomba from the provincial government due to a string of controversies involving her office.
Gomba was involved in the controversial R10 million plan to procure medical scooters in the province’s response to the Covid-19 pandemic.
Mabuyane said an investigation by the Special Investigating Unit (SIU) made serious findings of misconduct against her and the former head of the department, Dr Thobile Mbengashe.
He said he held meetings with the pair and asked them to submit representations on why he should not take action against them.
“They both submitted their representations to me and thereafter I met with them to communicate the action we had to take that was appropriate under the circumstances. The SIU report confirms that there was an award made to the company, but there was no public money spent on the procurement of motorbikes,” Mabuyane said.
Mandela funeral fraud
Last Friday, Gomba appeared in East London Magistrate’s Court along with several ANC heavyweights in the Buffalo City metro facing a string of serious charges including fraud, corruption, money laundering, and contravention of the Municipal Finance Management Act (MFMA).
The MEC and the 14 other suspects are accused of misleading the municipality into believing that it had an obligation to make funds available for the funeral and memorial service of former President Nelson Mandela in December 2013. They were released on R1000 bail each. Gomba was deputy mayor of the city at the time.
Mabuyane said the decision to dismiss Gomba from her duties would allow her to focus on the case.
“The decision to relieve Gomba of her duties as a member of the executive council will allow her time and space to attend to the case against her. This decision is in the best interest of the MEC and the provincial government,” he said.
The premier said he was also concerned that the case had dragged on for more than seven years and the charges against the accused were previously temporarily withdrawn. He said it was not in the interests of justice to prolong investigations.
“It is worth making this point that when law-enforcement agencies investigate allegations of corruption and wrongdoing, they must investigate thoroughly, arrest people for prosecution, and not arrest people for further investigation as justice delayed is justice denied.”
Mabuyane added that the announcement on the permanent appointment of Gomba’s replacement would be made in due course.