Gauteng MEC Masuku denies claims he influenced COVID-19 procurement processes

This after a 'Sunday Independent' report linked Masuku and his wife, Loyiso Lugayeni-Masuku, to a suspicious R125 million tender for PPE.

FILE: Gauteng Health MEC Bandile Masuku on 20 July 2020 inspects the Nasrec field hospital's state of readiness amidst the province's increase in coronavirus cases. Picture: Kayleen Morgan/EWN

JOHANNESBURG - Gauteng Health MEC Dr Bandile Masuku on Sunday denied allegations that he had influenced procurement processes linked to the fight against COVID-19.

This after a Sunday Independent report linked Masuku and his wife, Loyiso Lugayeni-Masuku, to a suspicious R125 million tender for personal protective equipment (PPE).

The Sunday Times also reported that the Special Investigating Unit was probing 90 companies that received contracts from the Gauteng Department of Health.

Some of the deals under investigation by the SIU were believed to be worth up to R2 billion, which included the emergency purchase of PPE.

In a statement, Masuku said that he had always acted with integrity and conviction and strongly denied any suggestion that the COVID-19 procurement process was being used to raise funds for the African National Congress (ANC) conference.

“Throughout my career, I have always acted with utmost integrity and conviction. I strongly refute any suggestion that COVID-19 procurement is being used as a means to raise funds ahead of ANC conferences,” Masuku said.

Masuku said that the process of awarding contracts within the department rested entirely on supply chain management in the finance department.

The MEC said that he remained committed to ensuring that lives were saved during the coronavirus pandemic.

“As MEC for Health in Gauteng, I remain committed to ensuring that our comprehensive health response is focused on saving lives. I will do everything in my power to ensure that anyone found to be stealing money meant for COVID-19 relief are identified and brought to book,” he said.

Meanwhile, the spokesperson for the SIU Kaizer Kganyago said that there were strict guidelines in place to make sure that relief funds were protected, even during an emergency situation like the COVID-19 pandemic.

“We’re looking at procurement and adherence to the regulations from Treasury. There was a clear regulation and framework put out by Treasury and we are looking at whether people are adhering to those, among other things,” he said.

The SIU said that it had managed to stop government from paying over some of the money from the R500 billion COVID-19 relief fund to questionable individuals.

Kganyago said that most of the contracts under investigation were allegedly given to friends and family of government officials.

“The biggest red-flags are the deviations and what we call piggybacking – somebody that’s got a contract that’s similar to you, you don’t go through the procurement process, you then piggybacking on that one and appointing the people that you want. Favouritism is a big thing,” he said.

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