COVID-19 corruption claims, Gauteng MEC placed on special leave

AFRICAN MIRROR REPORTER

THE ANC in Gauteng and the provincial government have taken a tough stance against corruption and two senior ANC officials implicated in a multimillion COVID-19 procurement scandal to immediately take a leave of absence while investigations into the matter continue.

Gauteng Health MEC Dr. Bandile Masuku, his wife, Loyiso, who is the Johannesburg MMC for Group Corporate and Shared Services, has been asked to step aside while the ANC provincial integrity committee (PIC) probe into their role in the procurement is investigated. 

Khusela Diko, the spokesperson of President Cyril Ramaphosa, whose husband is also implicated in the scandal, took a leave of absence from her role on Monday. 

Gauteng Premier David Makhura announced that Masuku would be replaced by Transport MEC Jacob Mamabolo. Makhura said he has also asked national health minister Dr. Zweli Mkhize to second technical experts to assist the provincial department of health. Makhura said he was disappointed at the turn of events and acknowledged the good work done by Masuku in leading Gauteng’s response to the COVID-19 pandemic.

At a separate media briefing, Gauteng ANC secretary Jacob Khawe said the process by the PIC was expected to be completed in four weeks. The political investigation will run parallel with the statutory investigation by the Special Investigation Unit (SIU). 

Khawe said Gauteng Premier David Makhura has been requested to ask the SIU to treat the investigation with urgency.

The scandal was first exposed by Sunday Independent, who reported an irregular R125-million PPE awarded to individuals with close ties to the senior ANC officials. The contract was awarded to Amabhaca King, Madzikane II Thandisizwe Diko, who is the husband of Khusela Diko.  The Sunday Independent has also exposed family links between the Masuku and Diko families. Loyiso Masuku and Khusela Diko were reportedly bridesmaids at each other’s weddings. 

Masuku has denied that he was involved in influencing COVID-19 contracts. The Dikos have also issued a statement, vehemently denying the allegations against them.

The action by the Gauteng ANC follows the announcement of tough anti-corruption measures by Ramaphosa

The government has rushed through a special proclamation and established a special investigation unit to probe all allegations of graft in the tenders – worth billions – to provide personal protective equipment, community screening, increased testing capacity, additional beds in field hospitals, ventilators, medicine and staffing.

Ramaphosa has announced the establishment of a special collaborative and coordinating centre to strengthen the collective efforts among law enforcement agencies so as to prevent, detect, investigate and prosecute COVID-related corruption.

This centre brings together the Financial Intelligence Centre (FIC), the Independent Police Investigative Directorate, the National Prosecuting Authority, the Hawks, Crime Intelligence and the SAPS Detective Service, the South African Revenue Service, the Special Investigating Unit and the State Security Agency.

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