Public protector clears Eastern Cape transport MEC over contracts to relatives

31 March 2021 - 18:09
The public protector's office has found no improper conduct relating to Eastern Cape safety and liaison MEC Weziwe Tikana-Gxothiwe.
The public protector's office has found no improper conduct relating to Eastern Cape safety and liaison MEC Weziwe Tikana-Gxothiwe.
Image: File photo

There was no improper conduct by Eastern Cape transport, safety and liaison MEC Weziwe Tikana-Gxothiwe in the award of contracts to her relatives for the provision of accommodation for Covid-19 patients, the public protector has found.

“We investigated allegations of improper conduct and maladministration by ... Tikana-Gxothiwe and the provincial departments of health and public works and infrastructure relating to the procurement of goods and services,” said acting public protector Kholeka Gcaleka as she provided an update on Tuesday about investigations completed in the 2020/2021 financial year.

She said a complaint was lodged in May 2020 by an anonymous EFF member of the Eastern Cape provincial legislature, who requested that the public protector’s office investigate the procurement of goods and services by Tikana-Gxothiwe’s department from Sitha Events and the procurement of accommodation to quarantine Covid-19 patients at Mioca Lodge.

“The complainant requested that we investigate the relationship between the MEC, Mioca Lodge and Ukhanyo Travels, and whether contracts were awarded to these entities due to MEC’s influence and relationship with them,” Gcaleka said.

“On July 7 2020, the public protector received another joint complaint from Dr Lwazi Ncapayi of Calusa and Gen Bantubonke Holomisa, MP of the UDM, in connection with the procurement of accommodation at Mioca Lodge to quarantine Covid-19 patients.”

According to Gcaleka, it was also alleged that provincial public works and health departments and the provincial executive council took a decision to accommodate about 18 Covid-19 patients at Mioca Lodge in the Cala reserve area, which is owned by Tikana-Gxothiwe’s daughter — a claimed conflict of interest on the MEC’s part as she was alleged to be the true owner of Mioca Lodge and had substantial interests in it.

“We found that the MEC was not improperly involved with Ukhanyo Travel and Events, Sitha Events, Mioca Lodge and Vaxobyte and did not influence the awarding of tender(s) to them by provincial government departments.

“Though the investigation established that Mioca Lodge and Vaxobyte are owned by the MEC’s daughter and husband respectively, it could not be found from the evidence obtained during the investigation that the MEC was involved or influenced the procurement of Mioca Lodge as a quarantine site for Covid-19,” Gcaleka said.

The public protector’s office, however, found that the supply chain management process followed by the departments of health and/or public works and infrastructure when it identified and procured accommodation from Mioca Lodge for Covid-19 patients was in contravention of applicable laws and legal prescripts regulating procurement.