Jacob Mamabolo is acting health MEC in Gauteng as SIU probes 102 firms
Transport MEC Jacob Mamabolo has been appointed acting MEC of health in Gauteng after Bandile Masuku temporarily stepped aside pending an investigation into alleged tender irregularities involving personal protective equipment (PPE).
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The announcement was made by premier David Makhura on Thursday after the ANC provincial executive committee ordered Masuku to take a leave of absence.
Makhura also revealed that 102 companies were under investigation over Covid-19 tenders in the province.
“My heart is sore that MEC Masuku, who has been doing such good work in helping us to respond to Covid, faces these allegations — but we can't close our eyes to it. It does raise question marks on political leaders, on government work,” said Makhura.
He said as the premier he had confidence in Masuku and though he may believe him, the allegations were there and Masuku needed to clear his name.
Makhura also expressed his disappointment at the allegations.
“These allegations have also damaged the work that the MEC for health, as the lead MEC, Dr Masuku has been doing. He has been leading our team in the province on this front very well and I must say that I am disappointed,” he said.
“At this point, I am really, really disappointed to have an MEC who has been leading in this front very well facing allegations that I can't ignore. This cannot be ignored by any serious government, nor the ANC can ignore.”
Earlier in the day, it emerged that Masuku was asked to take a leave of absence over allegations of tender irregularities linking him to the Royal Bhaca company owned by Thandisizwe Diko, husband to President Cyril Ramaphosa's spokesperson Khusela Diko.
The Dikos are family friends with Masuku and his wife Loyiso, who is a member of Johannesburg's mayoral committee.
Diko has since taken a leave of absence from her job as the presidential spokesperson while Loyisa was also instructed by the ANC to do the same while facing an internal ANC probe.
Makhura confirmed that Masuku had been given special leave for four weeks to allow investigations into the allegations of corruption in his department to be completed.
“These many allegations that have been thrown his way, it is not advisable for him to be bedevilled by those instead of focusing on the battle to save lives,” he said.
Speaking about investigations into the department of health, Makhura said they started in April when issues were flagged by the Gauteng audit services after a request from Masuku.
The audit necessitated the Special Investigating Unit (SIU) to take over the probe in June. Makhura said the probe started by focusing on 91 companies but the scope had since been increased to 102 companies.
He said after the probe, his government had blocked payment of R1bn to companies contracted by the department until the probe was done but he admitted that some companies had already been paid for their work.
Makhura also hinted that the investigations should focus on officials in the department because of their involvement in the matter.