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By Eric Naki

Political Editor

Time for Gauteng to stop pretending they’re not as rotten as the rest of the country

When it comes to Gauteng, the officials are discreet in their looting. They are smart fellows who smoke cigars and drink expensive wine and whisky in dark hotel lounges.

The tender scandal and other shenanigans involving the Gauteng department of health have raised a number of questions about the extent of corruption within the Gauteng government in general.

It’s not that we have been thinking all along that they had been running a clean administration. Indications are that the Royal Bhaca contracts were the tip of the iceberg in what is extensive corruption over many years.

As a tiny house on the hill, Gauteng enjoyed the glory of being “immune” from the bad publicity of being among provinces where corruption had become normal. You wouldn’t be surprised to read headlines about the theft of state funds in Limpopo, Mpumalanga, Eastern Cape, Free State, North West and KwaZulu-Natal. At one time Mpumalanga was nicknamed “Mamparalanga” by a
Sunday newspaper. The looting of the VBS Mutual Bank by top leaders, mayors and officials in the saga are well documented.

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But when it comes to Gauteng, save for the Alexandra renewal project funds that disappeared without trace, nothing much was reported. This speaks to the discreet way they handled their looting.

They are smart fellows who smoke cigars and drink expensive wine and whisky in dark hotel lounges.

But one thing is for sure: where there is smoke there is fire. From the Brian Hlongwa house saga in Bryanston, the Life Esidimeni saga, in which innocent lives were sacrificed at the altar of clandestine corrupt activities by senior officials and politicians, to the current PPE tender scandal, the provincial health department appears to be at the centre of it all.

The mysterious fire that razed their headquarters in the Johannesburg CBD raised suspicions about that department.

There is a lot of explaining to be done by the Gauteng government about what is happening there.

Promises of actions and investigations continue from one administration to the next – but no results. The Special Investigating Unit (SIU) is always called upon to investigate, but none of its findings and recommendations are implemented – or the unit is not effective.

The SIU investigated the Bosasa activities and the Hlongwa issue but nothing happened. Instead, after all these incidents, perpetrators are yet to wear orange overalls while more investigations and even a fully fledged commission of inquiry was appointed to probe the same Bosasa as part of the inquiry into state capture.

This begs the question: are the post-apartheid politicians using the SIU to cover their tracks, knowing that it would not implement its recommendations?

The investigation of corruption in Gauteng can’t be confined to the Diko tender issue and other recent tender contracts. Indications are that the entire provincial supply chain management system is rotten and the awarding of contracts is mired in corruption.

All former finance MECs cannot claim to be clean. A proper investigation should start from the first provincial administration to the last.

Their innocence could be proven once there had been a full investigation.

It is not enough that Luthuli House invites its members in affected departments to ask them some questions while drinking tea as comrades.

The governing party must be seen to be leading and acting. Otherwise it will be too late because the voters’ patience is fast wearing thin.

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