SIU sniffing Mpumalanga health department

SIU sniffing Mpumalanga health department
COVID LOOT: Premier Refilwe Mtsweni-Tsipane has revealed that the Special Investigating Unit (SIU) is busy investigating the provincial health department over irregularities in COVID-19 PPE procurement. PICTURE BY 013NEWS/ZK

The department spent R444 million buying Covid-19 PPE.

Premier Refilwe Mtshweni-Tsipane said the Special Investigation Unit (SIU) has its sights set on the Mpumalanga health department.

Tsipane said the SIU has “interest” in Sasekani Manzini’s department and they were currently investigating it.

“I must indicate that SIU is already on our shores. As we speak they have already started with the department of health. They were interested, they wanted to investigate health,” Tsipane told journalists.

She announced her government had appointed an independent body of investigators to probe 3 of her government’s departments – Lindiwe Ntshalintshali’s sports and culture department, Mandla Msibi’s co-operative governance and Pat Ngomane’s finance department, as well as the Mpumalanga Economic Growth Agency and Parks and Tourism Agency.

SEE ALSO: Premier Tsipane launches investigation into 3 departments

The procurement disclosure report shows some departments paid roughly R1 200 to R1 800 for digital non-contact thermometers, the majority paid R2 527 and upwards per unit. And while some paid R1 624.75 for 25 litres of sanitiser, others paid R4 590 for same.

Tsipane said meanwhile the SIU was looking at the health department they were currently probing the 3 departments and 2 state entities after “discrepancies” were found in the procurement processes of these departments.

“If the recommended amount is R500 nobody must go against that R500 threshold,” she said. “If you buy for R1 200 for us it’s a concern and therefore you must account,” the Premier told journalists at the Riverside government complex in Mbombela.

She said once these 3 departments and 2 state entities have been investigated their cases would then be handed over to the SIU to further investigate, in the event that wrongdoing is found.

Tsipane said as “small” as these “discrepancies” are but they can’t leave “matters unattended” and where they “need clarity that clarity must be sought”.

“Because we were very clear that we needed to adhere to the finance management act and that there should not be short-circling of processes because we want to term it ’emergency’. No, for us there was no emergency,” Tsipane said, adding that each and every department was given a guildeline on how to conduct business during the lockdown period but they have been using the finance management act – and now if “discrepancies” are found somebody must answer.

“If we pick up those discrepancies as cabinet we are definitely demanding answers,” she said.

The Premier said when departments adhere to the finance management act it benefits the people of Mpumalanga and the country’s fiscal.

“So these are the issues we are going to be looking at so that from time to time we don’t go beyond the scope of our work,” the Premier said.

Manzini’s department spent R444 million Covid-19, Bonakele Majuba’s education department R96.3 million and Vusi Shongwe’s agriculture department R32.8 million.

Ngomane’s department spent the least amount of money, at R555 000, human settlement MEC Norah Mahlangu R1 million, safety and security MEC Gabisile Shabalala R2.1 million, Ntshalintshali R4.7 million, Msibi R6.3 million and social development MEC Thandi Shongwe R9.7 million.

Tsipane said the independent body of investigators have 14 days to complete the full investigations and report back to her.

She said there will be consequences if wrongdoing is found in the manner goods were procured.

She said as government they have been emphasising that goods should be given to young people and fairly, but what was seen during the Covid-19 lockdowns was the “inequitable distribution of resources to a limited group of entities”. 

“Our investigators will assess the criteria utilised to select these benefited few,” she said.

(edited by ZK)

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