Makhura promises no mercy for corrupt government officials

Gauteng Premier David Makhura said he had "no mercy for any government official found to be doing wrong", as he sought to reassure the Gauteng legislature that he was going to take tough action on corruption.

Makhura was speaking at a virtual sitting, were he responded to questions from members of the legislature.

"People who are public officials and those in business must be held accountable," he said.

Makhura's words came in the wake of his administration being rocked by allegations of corruption surrounding the awarding of PPE Covid-19 contracts in its health department.

Most notable was the alleged R125 million irregular contract awarded to Madzikane II Thandisizwe Diko, the husband of ANC provincial executive committee member and President Cyril Ramaphosa's spokesperson Khusela Diko.

It also emerged that there were links between Health MEC Bandile Masuku and his wife Loyiso who sat at the Johannesburg council. The three were asked to take special leave.

Makhura said the Covid-19 tender corruption had set the province back six years, adding that the province hadn't experienced corruption on as large a scale as the PPE tenders.

He said: "When the disaster came, the crooks were always watching and were always around. Both in the system – it's just the systems were tight enough, it was difficult, but when the disaster was declared, the emergency procurement was there, which was meant for good and for quick decision-making. They pounded, undermined and destroyed the system we spent the last six years building. My heat is very sore."

Makhura added that while the open tender system was not perfect, it helped government improve the audit outcomes "to a point where our clean audits were increasing and we eliminated disclaimers from our audits and reduced irregular expenditure".

He said government's audit service was doing a good job as it had picked up the PPE corruption in the health department, recommending he recruit the special investigative unit.

Both the forensic audit investigations and the work of the SIU, were permanently based in his office, investigating big projects, he said.

"They must just make sure that every project is not affected by corruption. It's a proactive measure to make sure nothing happens. We do have mechanisms, I am saying to you we are strengthening them."

He bemoaned the criticism of small, black-owned companies, which he said were typically fingered in PPE corruption – saying that the SIU was also investigating big businesses for issues related to price fixing during lockdown.

"Sometimes wrongdoing done in the private sector by big corporations does not receive the same attention. They get fined with little amounts and this breaks my heart. We need to punish corruption wherever it happens."

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