Minister and premier at war over ‘Gupta ATM’

2018-03-04 05:52
Aaron Motsoaledi visits a Mediosa site in the North West. PHOTO: Poloko Tau

Aaron Motsoaledi visits a Mediosa site in the North West. PHOTO: Poloko Tau

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Health Minister Aaron Motsoaledi and North West Premier Supra Mahumapelo are at war, with the premier accusing the minister of visiting his province without telling him first.

Motsoaledi went to visit mobile clinics owned and run by the Gupta-linked company Mediosa, after an exposé in City Press. Motsoaledi slammed the R180m project, awarded without tender, as “an ATM card through which the Guptas are withdrawing money from the department of health”.

Mahumapelo said he would complain to ANC headquarters’ Luthuli House after Motsoaledi “chose the populist approach”. In television interviews on Friday he accused the health minister of “playing into” an “environment being brewed in the province” after the ANC’s Nasrec national conference “so that the province can be destabilised”.

“I suspect something on this particular matter ... that is why I am going to write to Luthuli House. I know of some political dynamics which I hope are not related to this impromptu [visit] to the province by the minister.”

Last week North West health department head Thabo Lekalakala was grilled in the legislature over the contract, which Motsoaledi slammed as “illegal” and said should be terminated. Mahumapelo last week called for a fourth investigation into it.

Motsoaledi arrived in Madibogo village outside Mahikeng to inspect the mobile clinics only to find the units standing idle and unstaffed.

Mediosa employees downed tools this week after not being paid. The company said the department hadn’t paid it.

“As a South African, if they were given R30m and all of a sudden they can’t pay workers, what was that R30m for?” Motsoaledi asked.

He said Mediosa’s services – which include optometry, dentistry and X-rays – were “not needed” because his department already provided them and all the mobile clinic did was screen patients and refer them to state services.

“They have optometric services but they don’t have spectacles,” he said. It has also emerged that the department was buying medical supplies for Mediosa.

Mahumapelo hit back, saying: “That’s what must be revealed by the investigation. You don’t arrive at a site for about 10 to 15 minutes and, based on what you see, you instantly take a decision [that] people’s contracts must be terminated; people must be removed, the HOD must go immediately and if he doesn’t go you will go to court.”

Motsoaledi told the media on Friday that he informed health MEC Magome Masike of his visit that morning.

Motsoaledi’s spokesperson, Popo Maja, said the “necessary authorities” were told of the visit. “This wasn’t a surprise visit. Both the premier and the MEC were informed of this fact-finding mission,” Maja said.

Read more on:    supra mahumapelo  |  aaron motosoaledi

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