News24.com | Makhura places Gauteng health dept in the hands of trusted ally as tender probe continues

News24.com | Makhura places Gauteng health dept in the hands of trusted ally as tender probe continues

News24.com | Makhura places Gauteng health dept in the hands of trusted ally as tender probe continues

Gauteng Premier David Makhura.

Gauteng Premier David Makhura.

@GautengProvince, Twitter

  • Gauteng Premier David Makhuras decision to appoint Jacob Mamabolo as acting health MEC was expected and is relatively welcomed, according to some members of the ANC provincial executive committee (PEC).
  • He also announced 102 companies would be investigated by the SIU regarding tenders issued by the Gauteng health department.
  • However, some in the PEC have chastised the premier, questioning the role of his office in the face of numerous scandals.

Under pressure and with his back to the wall, Gauteng Premier David Makhura relied on his most trusted ally, Transport MEC Jacob Mamabolo, to take over the reins at the provincial Department of Health amid the Covid-19 pandemic. 

Makhura was asked by the ANC, which he leads in the province, to place his Health MEC Bandile Masuku on special leave for a month while the Special Investigating Unit (SIU) probes a litany of corruption involving procurement and tenders. 

READ | Health MEC Bandile Masuku and wife Loyiso asked to ‘step aside’ amid corruption probe

The premier could not hide his disappointment the most important member of his provincial cabinet during the pandemic was linked to a tender scandal and was left with little choice but to ask him to step aside. 

For Makhura, Masuku was leading the provincial government’s response to the pandemic “very well”, but despite this, he had to act in the face of corruption claims. 

The decision to put Masuku on special leave and have Mamabolo fill in takes place on the back of a growing web of claims around both the MEC and his wife, City of Johannesburg MMC Loyiso Masuku, and President Cyril Ramaphosa’s spokesperson, Khusela Diko, and Chief Thandiziwe Madzikane II Diko.

EXPLAINER | What are the allegations against Gauteng Health MEC Bandile Masuku?

The two families have been at the centre of claims relating to tender corruption at the MEC’s department, which awarded the company owned by the chief a R125 million contract to provide personal protection equipment.

On Thursday, News24 revealed the chief and the MMC were business partners.

Mamabolo, according to some in the ANC is the premier’s most trusted ally, whose appointment came as no surprise.

He and Education MEC Panyaza Lesufi are the most experienced on Makhura’s executive, with the latter already facing an uphill battle of navigating the province’s schools through the pandemic.

Mamabolo’s portfolio is said to be currently stable, with taxis, buses and the Gautrain all having adapted to working under regulations set in place to combat the spread of the virus.

One insider, however, pointed out Lesufi and Mamabolo were the only MECs the premier entrusted with acting roles.

Pressure

Makhura has been under pressure in the ANC, with different structures calling for him to act in line with the precedent set with the former health MEC, Qedani Mahlangu, who was given the boot when implicated in a scandal.

An ANC provincial executive committee (PEC) member told News24 that during the ANC’s meeting on Wednesday evening, some leaders raised concerns over Makhura’s role in the going-ons in his own provincial government.

“If something goes wrong in Ekurhuleni, the mayor will take the fall, same thing in the City of Johannesburg but when it comes to the province, you have an innocent premier and guilty MECs,” said the insider.

Another said Makhura had often failed to take his own comrades into his confidence.

“He has been there for long, likely to finish two terms, nothing to show for it but every time something goes wrong he is quick to run to the SIU but we don’t have the reports. Where are the reports of the things going wrong in Gauteng?” questioned a second PEC member.

Some in the meeting also told News24 an attempt by the president’s spokesperson, who is also a PEC member, to question the decision to meet over claims in the media and an incomplete SIU report, was dismissed, with her and Masuku both being left out of the discussions about their futures ensued.

The majority of those joined in the virtual meeting, minus the ANC Women’s League, were in agreement about the way forward.

Way forward

On Thursday morning, the ANC’s provincial secretary, Jacob Khawe who is Diko’s former spouse, announced the party’s decision to put the implicated parties on leave, at least until the matter had been resolved.

Khawe said the three would have to appear before the ANC’s provincial integrity commission, a decision Diko’s husband told SABC news was both unfortunate and irrational.

The chief’s remarks had already upset some in the PEC, with one members telling News24 they wondered whether he realised he was antagonising the people who played a role in his wife’s future in politics.

The ANC has ordered Makhura to take citizens into his confidence as premier and explain what went wrong with the tender, telling journalists the preliminary report into the tender still had gaps which needed to be filled.

Makhura, who seemed frustrated during his own media briefing, complained of his own government’s department heads’ approach to wrongdoing, saying at times they let people off with just a slap on the wrist.

The premier said 102 companies would be subjected to the SIU investigation.

And in following on his own PEC’s resolution, called for the investigation to happen quickly.

A third PEC member accused Makhura of “running to the SIU as if he has some authority over it”. 

“Where are his proclamation notes, where are the reports? Implicated parties? And action, has he ever taken action against anyone,” said the frustrated PEC member.

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