Director-general orders probe into questionable R15m tenders

Mhlaba Memela

Mhlaba Memela

KwaZulu-Natal director-general Kwazi Mbanjwa says a high-level independent probe is under way to get to the bottom of the allegations against the province's Health Department head, Busi Nyembezi.

Nyembezi has been cited in fraud allegations totalling more than R15million.

Documents held by Mbanjwa and Premier Sibusiso Ndebele allegedly show Nyembezi channelled the funds through awarding tenders to her company, Harambe Institute of Transformation, as well as to its associates.

Mbanjwa vowed to get tough on all government officials who are fingered in corruption and who "cripple the government's service delivery" to the poor.

He said the provincial government did not take allegations of fraud and corruption lightly.

"We cannot turn a blind eye to such allegations, and will get to the bottom of these.

"Individuals who embezzle funds or are guilty of corruption will be dealt with.

"We will take the necessary disciplinary action and even fire people if we have to," he said.

Mbanjwa said the documents that level the allegations against Nyembezi have been handed over to independent investigators.

"We have appointed Strauss Daly and Associates to investigate the issues and allegations of corruption within the health department.

"We expect them to present their findings next week, at which time we will take the necessary action.

"We have also instructed Nyembezi and MEC Peggy Nkonyeni to fully disclose all information in the case," he added.

Last week the law firm was asked to investigate the deteriorating relationship between Nkonyeni and Nyembezi, as well as conflicts generally within the department.

However, as new allegations have begun to surface, the firm's terms of reference were broadened to include "all necessary aspects" within the department.

The investigation will also probe the department's over-expenditure of R47million in its 2006-07 budget as well as the loss of senior staffers associated with former Health MEC Zweli Mkhize.

The senior staffers were apparently given their marching orders by Nyembezi.

Meanwhile, the public service watchdog body, the Public Service Commission has raised concerns about the lack of transparency within government departments in the province.

The commission said the provincial departments were losing millions of rands because of discrepancies, corruption and misconduct involving officials.

Its comments follow a meeting with members of the province's finance portfolio committee in the legislature on Wednesday.

The meeting revealed non-compliance by several government departments, weak systems of auditing, monitoring, investigation and reporting.