Gauteng health official suspended over lack of action in awarding of contracts during Covid-19 pandemic

Gauteng premier David Makhura has suspended the head of the province's health department after he failed to carry out his duties in the awarding of contracts for the procurement of goods and services during the Covid-19 pandemic.
Gauteng premier David Makhura has suspended the head of the province's health department after he failed to carry out his duties in the awarding of contracts for the procurement of goods and services during the Covid-19 pandemic. 
Image: Gallo Images / Sowetan / Antonio Muchave

Gauteng premier David Makhura has suspended the head of the department (HOD) of health, Mkhululi Lukhele, with immediate effect.

This was announced by provincial government spokesperson Thabo Masebe on Wednesday after the personal protective equipment (PPE) tender scandal that rocked the province.

“Gauteng premier David Makhura has placed Professor Mkhululi Lukhele, the head of the department  of health, under precautionary suspension with immediate effect. The premier is acting on the recommendations of the Special Investigating Unit after the update report presented to him on 22 September 2020.

“The Special Investigating Unit found that the head of department failed to exercise his responsibility in the awarding of contracts to certain companies for the procurement of goods and services in relation to the government’s response to the Covid-19 pandemic. The actions, or omission by the HOD, may have resulted in the department incurring fruitless and wasteful expenditure,” Masebe said.

Lukhele was the HOD  at the time when the Gauteng health department was involved in the PPE  scandal involving its MEC Bandile Masuku, his wife, who is Johannesburg MMC Loyiso, and presidential spokesperson Khusela Diko.

The scandal saw Diko’s husband who is AmaBhaca chief Thandiziwe Diko’s company, Royal Bhaca, awarded a multimillion rand Covid-19 PPE tender. The Masukus and the Dikos are close family friends.

Diko, Loyiso and Masuku were placed on a month-long leave in July.

The scandal shook the ruling party in the province and resulted in the conduct of the three officials being investigated by the integrity commission of the ANC.

Last week,  Sowetan reported that the ANC in Gauteng decided to extend their leave of absence by at least three weeks as they deal with the contents of the integrity commission’s report.

The party decided against adopting the report by its integrity commission which, according to insiders, was riddled with inconsistencies, contradictions and that it provided inadequate information.

The SIU has been tasked to investigate the awarding of PPE tenders which have been awarded to companies as government was fighting Covid-19. The Auditor-General has also started investigating these tenders as public officials abused the emergency procurement environment  and got into corrupt dealings with private companies.

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