The ANC in Gauteng has endorsed the axing of Bandile Masuku as health MEC and resolved to refer him and suspended presidential spokesperson Khusela Diko to the party’s disciplinary structures regarding their alleged roles in personal protective equipment (PPE) corruption and other tender irregularities.
ANC Gauteng provincial secretary Jacob Khawe announced this in a statement after a virtual two-day meeting of the party’s provincial executive committee (PEC).
“The outcome of the DC [disciplinary committee] will determine if both comrades should continue being PEC members or not. To protect the integrity of both the ANC and the affected members, the PEC resolved that comrades Masuku and Diko should not participate in organisational processes that relate to the finalisation of the PEC decision,” said Khawe.
He explained that the PEC had endorsed Gauteng premier David Makhura’s sacking of Masuku and urged him to move with speed in appointing a permanent replacement to the post, and addressing the leadership vacuum in the health department that has lost many senior officials to the PPE scandal.
“The meeting further mandated the premier to urgently appoint an MEC so as to bring much-needed stability to the department. It is an open secret that the department has no senior personnel and everyone is in an acting capacity,” he said.
In relation to Masuku’s wife, Loyiso, who had also been implicated in the corruption allegations, Khawe said reports presented to them by their provincial integrity commission and the provincial working committee “couldn’t find any direct link” of her involvement in PPE corruption.
“Therefore, the PEC endorsed the PwC recommendation that she be allowed to go back to work. This decision also takes into consideration that there is currently an SIU [Special Investigating Unit] investigation, and, should anything be found that suggests otherwise, then the PEC will reconsider its decision,” he said.
Makhura fired Masuku after a damning SIU report. The report found that Masuku was firmly at the centre of dodgy Covid-19 coronavirus tender for the procurement of PPE worth R125 million from a politically connected company.
The allegations related to a PPE tender awarded to a company owned by Thandisizwe Diko, the husband of Khusela Diko, by the health department under Masuku’s leadership several months ago when the government began spending billions of rand on Covid-19 supplies.
The Dikos and Masukus are family friends and have separately denied any wrongdoing.
The SIU found that Masuku had known about the department’s irregular procurement processes.
It found that the department’s newly appointed supply chain head, Thandy Pino, had informed former head of department Professor Mkhululi Lukhele that the then chief financial officer, Kabelo Lehloenya, had been procuring PPE without complying with the relevant laws.
This information was duly escalated to Masuku’s office.
Prior to the SIU’s findings, a forensic report conducted by Paul O’Sullivan concluded that it did not find any direct link that Masuku had interfered with the PPE procurement processes. The forensic report by O’Sullivan & Associates Solicitors, dated October 8, conflicted with the SIU’s report by finding that there was no evidence linking Masuku to any interference in the procurement of healthcare equipment.
“There is no evidence that Dr Masuku interfered in any personal protective equipment procurement processes. His stated motivation of being involved was in delivery, rather than procurement, and was solely to ensure that the department did not run out of essential personal protective equipment, thereby endangering the lives of medical staff or patients,” the report read.
O’Sullivan said there was no denying that Loyiso Masuku and Khusela Diko were old friends.
“However, no negative conclusion can be drawn from this, given that the Masukus had no idea that Diko, whom they had only known since 2016, was entering bids for the personal protective equipment supply chain. If a negative conclusion were to be drawn in respect of the Diko-Masuku friendship, it should be against Diko, who appears not to have been receptive to the notion that he was conflicted by doing business with the Gauteng department of health, as a result of his marriage to an old friend of Mrs and Dr Masuku.
“Mrs Diko would also have been wise to alert her friend that her husband was involved in supplying personal protective equipment to [the Gauteng department],” he said.