Health Minister Aaron Motsoaledi has described the controversial contract between the North West health department and Mediosa as nothing but an ATM card for the Guptas to withdraw money from the department.
Motsoaledi did not mince his words when he expressed his great disappointment on the dubious contract, which he wants terminated.
City Press recently broke the story on Mediosa, a Gupta-linked company, which was prepaid R30 million in May last year for the services of high-tech mobile units. That was about five months before the company got the actual mobile units and started doing the actual work.
It later emerged that, actually, the provincial health department had set aside R180 million for Mediosa over three years.
“I must express my deepest disappointment at the turn of events because this was not supposed to happen in our country,” Motsoaledi said after inspecting two mobile units in Madibogo village outside Mahikeng in the North West earlier today. “They look very state-of-the-art with X-ray machines and all but this is a service that we don’t need at all. In fact, I don’t think it will be wrong to describe this as an ATM card through which the Guptas are withdrawing money from the department of health,” he said.
“I will ask for this service to be terminated. Whoever went into this contract must find a way to terminate it because we don’t need it ... our own services are doing it [already]. [Mediosa] screens people, charges them and, when they are sick, refer them back to our hospitals, hence I was saying it’s an ATM card. If you were to send these people to a general practitioner they would be charged much less than what they are being charged [by Mediosa].”
He said paying Mediosa R30 million upfront was “just fraud” adding that he was disappointed that after all the “disturbances the Guptas did to state-owned enterprises, they were now raiding our health coffers”.
On Mediosa workers not being paid their salaries at the end of February, Motsoaledi said: “If they were given R30 million and all of a sudden they can’t pay their workers, what was that money for?” he asked.
Mediosa operations have come to a halt – including the service point in Madibogo, where Motsoaledi found the mobile units standing idle not offering any services and with no staff on site.
Meanwhile, a “shocked” Parliament’s portfolio committee on health has decided to “invite” the national and provincial departments of health to appear before it to account on these issues.
The chairperson of the committee, Lindelwa Dunjwa, said it was outrageous that a government department used private ambulances for emergency medical services (EMS) that should be provided by the state.
Exacerbating the matter are the reports that the provincial department paid a Gupta-linked company millions to provide mobile clinic services, Dunjwa said.
“It cannot be right that we have private companies performing duties that are a key competency of government. The use of private ambulances is costly and it is negatively impacting on the provincial department’s budget. Outsourcing of services such as EMS affects employment opportunities for people who could be directly employed by the state,” she said.
“We are not taking this kindly and it is unacceptable. We will not allow corruption to rear its ugly head in the health sector.”