Public protector clears transport MEC over contracts to relatives
‘Tikana-Gxothiwe did not influence awarding of tenders by provincial departments’
There was no improper conduct by Eastern Cape transport, safety and liaison MEC Weziwe Tikana-Gxothiwe in the award of contracts to her relatives for the provision of accommodation for Covid-19 patients, the public protector has found.
“We investigated allegations of improper conduct and maladministration by ... Tikana-Gxothiwe and the provincial departments of health and public works and infrastructure relating to the procurement of goods and services,” acting public protector Kholeka Gcaleka said.
She was providing an update on Tuesday about investigations completed in the 2020/2021 financial year.
She said a complaint was lodged in May 2020 by an anonymous EFF member of the Eastern Cape provincial legislature, who requested that the public protector’s office investigate the procurement of goods and services by Tikana-Gxothiwe’s department from Sitha Events and the procurement of accommodation to quarantine Covid-19 patients at the Mioca Lodge.
“The complainant requested that we investigate the relationship between the MEC, Mioca Lodge and Ukhanyo Travels, and whether contracts were awarded to these entities due to [the] MEC’s influence and relationship with them,” Gcaleka said.
“On July 7 2020, the public protector received another joint complaint from Dr Lwazi Ncapayi of Calusa and General Bantubonke Holomisa, MP of the UDM, in connection with the procurement of accommodation at Mioca Lodge to quarantine Covid-19 patients.”
According to Gcaleka, it was also alleged that provincial public works and health departments and the provincial executive council took a decision to accommodate about 18 Covid-19 patients at the Mioca Lodge in the Cala reserve area.
This is owned by Tikana-Gxothiwe’s daughter — a claimed conflict of interest on the MEC’s part as she was alleged to be the true owner of the Mioca Lodge and had substantial interests in it.
“We found that the MEC was not improperly involved with Ukhanyo Travel and Events, Sitha Events, Mioca Lodge and Vaxobyte and did not influence the awarding of tender(s) to them by provincial government departments.
“Though the investigation established that Mioca Lodge and Vaxobyte are owned by the MEC’s daughter and husband respectively, it could not be found from the evidence obtained during the investigation that the MEC was involved or influenced the procurement of Mioca Lodge as a quarantine site for Covid-19,” Gcaleka said.
The public protector’s office, however, found that the supply chain management process followed by the departments of health and/or public works and infrastructure when it identified and procured accommodation from the Mioca Lodge for Covid-19 patients was in contravention of applicable laws and legal prescripts regulating procurement.
In another ruling, the public protector has found the Eastern Cape health department did not follow due process in procuring medical scooters for R10m to transport patients.
Gcaleka said the probe had determined that the procurement process followed by the department to supply the scooters was improper.
The public protector’s office had initiated the investigation, she said.
“We found that the procurement process followed by [provincial health] when it awarded Fabkomp to supply motorbikes with a sidecar ambulance or clinic was improper and in contravention of applicable legal prescripts,” Gcaleka said.
To remedy this, Gcaleka said the acting head of the department of health should take disciplinary action against officials involved in and responsible for the non-compliance within 90 days from the date of the report.
“The acting head must also ensure that all the officials involved in SCM [supply chain management] processes and the senior managers of the department attend a workshop on the relevant legislation and other legal and policy prescripts and instructions of the national and provincial treasuries regulating the procurement of goods and services by the department within 60 days from the date of this report.”
The public protector released 21 reports on Tuesday. Of those, 10 were closed investigations. — TimesLIVE
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