Provincial health departments a cesspool of irregular expenditure, Zweli Mkhize reveals

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Zweli Mkhize
Zweli Mkhize
Sharon Seretlo, Gallo Images
  • Provincial health departments have collectively racked up irregular expenditure worth billions.
  • Gauteng and North West have recorded the highest irregular expenditure.
  • The Western Cape recorded the lowest irregular expenditure.

Irregular expenditure at all nine provincial health departments has, over the past five years, skyrocketed.

Despite the billions in irregular expenditure, very few contracts were cancelled, while most provinces cancelled no contracts despite racking up high irregular expenditure bills.

In the Gauteng health department, only two tenders were cancelled due to corruption or irregular expenditure over the past five years.

This, despite the department racking up more than R12 billion in irregular expenditure during this time.

READ | Digital Vibes: Mkhize to use special leave to mount a defence against allegations

These details were contained in Minister of Health Zweli Mkhize's response to a written parliamentary question from DA MP Siviwe Gwarube.

The question had been posed before Mkhize's special leave.

The Gauteng health department recorded six cases of corruption worth R12.6 million (R12 600 944.78) in the 2019-20 financial year.

In 2017-18, corruption cases worth R2.8 million (R2 875 716.49) were recorded.

In the Eastern Cape, the health department had no tenders cancelled because of irregularities or corruption.

The province is, however, currently using manual systems which are paper-based.

"The plans to digitise procurement processes have been included on the departmental strategic plan, and processes are under way to engage the [State Information Technology Agency] for assistance," Mkhize said.

READ HERE | SA's vaccine rollout passes the 1 million mark – here's which provinces are leading the race

The embattled North West health department's irregular expenditure bill for the past five years tops R4.7 billion (R4 728 202 000).

In the Free State, not a single tender was cancelled due to irregularities or corruption.

However, the provincial department had registered an amount of R1.6 billion (R1 605 678 521.22) in irregular expenditure.

In respect of corruption, the Free State Psychiatric Complex made double payment to various suppliers on the same order numbers. The cost involved R7.8 million (R7 821 587.62).

In KwaZulu-Natal, no tenders were cancelled in the province in the past five years due to irregularities and/or corruption.

According to Mkhize's reply, the cost of corruption in the KwaZulu-Natal health department for the 2016-17 financial year was R 16 918 744.

In 2017-18, the costs decreased to R 8 505 932.68 and then increased to R118 169 545.62 in 2018-19.

In the 2019-20 financial year, the cost of corruption was R474 767.75.

In Limpopo, no irregular expenditure was recorded because of corruption within the department.

Mkhize said in Mpumalanga the provincial health department did not have known cases of corruption reported.

He, however, said the department cancelled contracts with an appointed service provider for the supply of perishable and non-perishable food due to non-compliance with the Unemployment Insurance Fund (UIF).

Irregular expenditure recorded was, however, high despite it dropping considerably over the past few years.

READ ALSO | SIU: Investigation into Mkhize's Digital Vibes connection to be completed by month-end

In 2016-17, the department recorded R1.5 billion in irregular expenditure while the following year (2017-18) it dropped to R309 920 000.

In 2018-19, the irregular expenditure figure stood at R138 899 000 and in 2019-20 at R122 157 000.

On the Northern Cape, Mkhize said:

No cost of corruption incurred in the past five financial years. No contract was cancelled due to irregularities and/or corruption in the past five years.

The collective irregular expenditure amount for the past five years stood at R2.6 billion.

In the Western Cape, there was no record of corruption or contract cancellations due to irregularities.

The province also recorded the lowest irregular expenditure.

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