Gauteng PPE scandal: 'Identical' tender issued to 'front company'

Following reports that the Gauteng government has engaged in yet another dodgy personal protective equipment (PPE) tender, the Democratic Alliance (DA) in the province have called for "heads to roll". 

New details have emerged that a company based in Gauteng received several payments through a front company, Ledla Structural Development, amounting to R80 million for the procurement of PPE, with the tender baring a concerning resemblance to the one issued to King Madzikane Thandisizwe Diko. 

Gauteng PPE scandal continues 

Details of alleged corruption relating to PPE procurement by Diko, who is the husband of Presidential spokesperson Khusela Diko, rocked the country this week, with the damning revelations having exposed the deep rot of corruption related to coronavirus relief funds and resulted in top-ranking Gauteng officials being placed on leave. 

Gauteng Health MEC, Bandile Masuku, and his wife, Loyiso — who serves as a Member of the Mayoral Committee in Johannesburg — have both been placed on a sudden leave of absence pending outcomes of an ongoing investigation.

And on Sunday, the Sunday Tribune reported that Ledla Structural Development were paid at least R80 million for the procurement of the critical equipment, despite not appearing on the original list of 75 successful bidders for R2.2 billion worth of PPE contracts in Gauteng. 

The contract with Ledla is identical to the one issued to Diko's Royal Bhaca company, with the exact order and and payment agreement replicated, with Ledla having received payment between 24 and 27 July. The allegations have suggested that Diko, who has denied involvement in any corrupt activities, is also behind the latest tender bombshell. 

On 17 July, Diko denied that his company had received any payment from the Gauteng government, and said that the contract had been cancelled. unfortunately, neither he nor Gauteng Health MEC Bandile Masuku could provide proof of this supposed cancellation. 

"Royal Bhaca was never paid anything from the department in spite of having delivered. It's amazing that there can be an assertion that there is R139 million that RB has with the department currently," Diko said earlier in July. 

DA: 'Heads must roll' 

The DA's Gauteng Shadow Health MEC, Jack Bloom, said on Sunday that the report "highlights a complete lack of control" in Gauteng's government. 

"I am concerned that some of this money was paid as late as last week, and more might still be paid," he said. "This contradicts the assertion by Premier David Makhura that payments have been stopped to disputed PPE contracts."

"We need to know why payments are still being paid to fishy companies and why the department does not deal directly with medical supply companies which would be simpler and cheaper."

Bloom said that there is no indication that assurances by Makhura that problems in the province's Department of Health are being efficiently resolved. 

"Gauteng Premier David Makhura has claimed for years now that the Gauteng Health Department was being "turned around" but the rot is still there," he said. 

"The accountability for this PPE scandal is far wider than just Health MEC Bandile Masuku who has now been suspended for four weeks while investigations continue."

He called for swift action, and for justice to be seen to be done following the conclusion of the Special Investigative Unit's investigation into the damning saga. 

"More heads need to roll and criminal prosecutions should follow for all who are implicated in this greedy grab for contracts that has resulted in inferior and inadequate protective equipment for health workers fighting the COVID-19 pandemic," he said.