Lodge quarantine debacle needed more scrutiny

Eastern Cape premier Oscar Mabuyane.
Eastern Cape premier Oscar Mabuyane.
Image: Michael Pinyana

It was a situation with troubling potential for the province. Fourteen people who had tested positive for Covid-19 were moved to a guest lodge in Cala last week to be quarantined. It soon emerged that the facility, which was hand-picked, belonged to the daughter of transport MEC Weziwe Tikana-Gxothiwe, who is also the ANC Women’s League deputy secretary-general.

She insisted she had no involvement in the lodge and that her daughter’s business had been declared at an earlier stage.

At a press briefing on Friday, health  MEC Sindiswa Gomba claimed not to know that 14 people infected with the virus were being quarantined at the site; she was alerted to it at the same time that the media was, she said.

That she was not aware that 14 people were being quarantined in a private facility in the province is worrying, to the say the least.

And as if that was not bad enough, Premier Oscar Mabuyane on Friday evening released a scathing statement, his annoyance seemingly directed at those who had questioned the use of  Tikana-Gxothiwe’s daughter’s lodge.

He instructed that the 14 infected people be moved to another facility and that the booking at the lodge be cancelled.

“This decision is a proper action by government to remove any amount of doubt in the prudence of the work government is doing to curb the spread of the coronavirus in the province,” Mabuyane said.

“The MEC for transport, safety and liaison, Weziwe Tikana-Gxothiwe, assured me she does not own the B&B at issue and that the ownership of this business enterprise by her daughter was declared as required.

“Given the procurement of this B&B was not done by the departments led by MEC Tikana-Gxothiwe, that she does not own this business and was not involved directly or indirectly in the procurement process of this facility, the allegations of corruption and nepotism peddled by some individuals on social media have not been substantiated.  

“We must guard against making unfounded and baseless accusations against any individual with no evidence to support such claims,” Mabuyane added.

Instead of investigating any possible wrongdoing, Mabuyane has closed that door.

He chose to ignore red flags and side with a comrade, a known political ally, missing an opportunity to show firm leadership and walk the talk on his anti-corruption rhetoric.

It is a move that may come back to bite him, especially as the campaign — among his comrades — to ensure he does not serve a second term heats up.

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