SAHRC's Gauteng head welcomes call for Masuku to step aside amid tender scandal

The quarantine site at the Nasrec field hospital in Johannesburg (News24/Azarrah Karrim)
The quarantine site at the Nasrec field hospital in Johannesburg (News24/Azarrah Karrim)
Azarrah Karrim
  • Buang Jones said he hoped the Gauteng health department could find a replacement for Bandile Masuku.
  • That replacement should ideally possess the same leadership qualities and clinical knowledge as the MEC, who is a qualified doctor. 
  • The SAHRC has launched an investigation into allegations of corruption and maladministration in the department, probing Covid-19 spending.

The South African Human Rights Commission's (SAHRC) Gauteng provincial head, Buang Jones, has welcomed the decision by the province's ANC to ask Health MEC Bandile Masuku to step aside.

Jones was speaking during an inspection at the Nasrec field hospital in Johannesburg on Thursday, which was established to assist with rising Covid-19 infections in the province.

The inspection was to ascertain the readiness of the facility as well as the challenges it faces.

READ | Health MEC Bandile Masuku and wife Loyiso asked to 'step aside' amid corruption probe

Jones said he hoped the investigation into Masuku would be fast-tracked and expressed his admiration for the MEC who was asked to step aside amid a controversial R125 million personal protective equipment tender.

"The Gauteng office has worked with the MEC before, he has always been responsive, he has always co-operated with the [SAHRC] and has been leading the government response to Covid-19.

"We are obviously concerned and hope the provincial government will find someone who has similar qualities in terms of leadership, in terms of clinical knowledge and understanding of the issues in the health sector."

He added the province had seen progress in the health sector since Masuku took over in 2019.

"We welcome the decision that has been taken and we hope that the investigations will be fast-tracked but we are not bothered about investigations of a civic structure or a political structure, our concern is how, as a nation and … as a province, do we combat corruption at all level.

"The days of people using state power for private accumulation should come to an end," Jones said.

The SAHRC had launched an investigation into Covid-19 spending within the Gauteng Department of Health following allegations of irregularities and corruption, he added during the inspection.

ALSO READ | Covid-19: SAHRC set to probe Gauteng health spending amid corruption claims

The investigation, Jones said, would take six months depending on the level of co-operation the commission received.

He added corruption had a direct impact on human rights and proposed a memorandum of understanding with the department, saying it had been embroiled in allegations of corruption and maladministration.

Jones said:

Poor governance, maladministration, acts of malfeasance or corruption have a devasting effect on the enjoyment of the right to health and we hope that through this visit here today and through the probe we are going to launch that we will be able to understand the extent of the alleged corruption, if there is corruption, in the Department of Health.

Jones said the investigation would also highlight the impact on users of the public health system.

He also commended the volunteers as well as the facility manager, Dr Vis Naidoo, of the Nasrec field hospital.

"We are calling for the optimum management of funds that have been allocated to deal with this pandemic.

"The Gauteng provincial government has recently allocated R5.9 billion as part of their response to Covid-19, and we want to monitor the service delivery choices of this provincial government [as well as] the spending patterns."

Jones said the SAHRC would conduct a "thorough" budget analysis and subpoena documents such as contracts and supplier lists, as well as whether there were competitive bids for tenders and how tenders have impacted on the right to health.

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