Former Gauteng health MEC Bandile Masuku has decided not to appeal a high court ruling against him, arguing that it has exonerated him on serious allegations of corruption and nepotism.
The Pretoria High Court dismissed his application to overturn the Special Investigating Unit (SIU) findings that he failed to exercise proper oversight to prevent the squandering of millions of rands in personal protective equipment (PPE) tender irregularities in the provincial health department.
The court concluded that the SIU did not pronounce Masuku guilty of anything. It also saw no basis of civil action against him. However, it deemed his conduct wanting and dismissed his application with costs. The court agreed with the SIU that as MEC, Masuku was negligent not to monitor and take action against irregularities that may have happened during PPE procurement processes.
It dismissed his argument that as MEC he was not supposed to play any role in procurement matters, saying he was deaf and blind to risks inherent in such transactions.
On Tuesday, Masuku announced that he no longer saw the need to appeal because the court had, in dismissing his challenge, conceded that there was no criminal conduct on his part in the scandal.
“After careful consideration of the judgment and consulting his legal team on further appropriate action, our client has instructed his legal team not to appeal the judgment of the full court.”
“This decision is primarily because the court’s latter findings are unequivocally exculpatory and thus removed all the public doubt that had until recently lingered on whether Masuku was involved in any Covid-19 procurement corruption and/or irregularities,” his attorney, Mojalefa Motalane, said.
Masuku was removed from his post late last year by Gauteng Premier David Makhura based on the SIU report. The unit in October found that Masuku knew about the irregular procurement process in his department because the chief financial officer and the head of supply chain management had kept him informed.
He moved to appeal the decision of the SIU through the high court and lost. The court ruled that the SIU was not irrational in reaching a conclusion that Masuku had failed to provide oversight.
In a 31-page judgment, the court found that the SIU “faithfully reported” that Masuku’s conduct was found to be wanting.
“To form such an opinion is plainly within its [SIU] scope of functions. No irrationality can exist in the SIU being disappointed by Masuku’s discharge of his role,” the judgment reads.
Regarding his ANC status, Masuku said he had formally lodged an appeal with the national disciplinary committee of appeals against the ANC Gauteng’s decision to suspend him.
Masuku was found to have brought the party into disrepute following a provincial integrity committee report. The provincial disciplinary committee recommended that he and his co-accused, Khusela Diko, be barred from participating in official party meetings.
In his statement on Tuesday, Masuku accused the SIU of being biased against him, saying the unit relied on irrelevant legislation.
He, however, said that he was satisfied that the court judgment had done enough to clear his name and that he would now be appealing his suspension with the ANC’s national disciplinary committee.
“Although the high court review application was a separate process, Masuku is happy and hopeful that such an exoneration by the court will have a positive impact on the internal disciplinary processes of the ANC,” Motalane said.
“Masuku has officially lodged an appeal with the national disciplinary committee of the ANC with the aim of overturning the ruling of the provincial disciplinary committee, which made serious errors of judgment. The [national disciplinary committee] is yet to sit and make a ruling.”