Gauteng Premier David Makhura has offered to step aside from both his positions in government and the ANC after his office was implicated in the awarding of irregular contracts.
While labelling the stories “lies and an orchestrated smear campaign to tarnish my name” in order to “ultimately remove [him] from the Gauteng political scene”, Makhura said he was nevertheless willing to subject himself to the ANC’s rules.
“As a member of the ANC, I must also abide by the constitution, conference resolutions and decision of the ANC,” he said in a seven-page statement dated Friday 29 January.
He said: “Particularly, I must take a lead in the fight against the scourge of corruption, which undermines the vision, values and principles of the society for which many struggled for and sacrificed. Corruption is an anti-thesis to fundamental socioeconomic transformation and sustainable development.”
He said he had informed the ANC’s provincial officials that he would like to appear before the ANC integrity commission to offer an explanation “on these spurious allegations”.
He said he was willing to abide by the ANC’s decision on his fate.
His statement follows a story in the Sunday World on 24 January in which it was reported that Makhura was directly implicated in the looting of the personal protective equipment tenders in which former health MEC Bandile Masuku was implicated.
In a meeting with the ANC on Thursday night, leaders reportedly took him and the Gauteng Education MEC Panyaza Lesufi to task over allegations levelled against them or their departments.
Lesufi’s department spent over R431 million on tenders to decontaminate classrooms, even though this wasn’t required by the health department.
The DA has also called on them to step aside.
Makhura said the story about him was based on a mistaken understanding of what was meant by the “Office of the Premier”, which he said had 350 employees.
This comes after former Department of Health chief financial officer Kabelo Lehloenya, in an affidavit to the Special Tribunal, said that some of the suppliers had provided contracts on “multiple levels”, one of which was through the Office of the Premier.
In the Special Tribunal judgment on 10 December, which ruled in favour of the Special Investigating Unit’s application to review and set aside contracts awarded unlawfully and to recover lost public funds, the judge wrote that Lehloenya had implicated the premier as one of the officials “who provided the names of individuals and entities” for the bids she received.
Makhura in his statement said: “It is quite apparent that the Judge erred in substituting the ‘Office of the Premier’ with the Premier. The Office of the Premier is a department composed of more than 350 employees.
“The judgment refers directly to the Premier as one of the officials who provided the names of individuals and entities whose bids were received and awarded PPE contracts unlawfully. This implies that I was directly implicated in the PPE procurement irregularities.”
Makhura this week applied for the judgment to be corrected because “they are historical records which have far-reaching consequences and they must be accurate”.
He also accused Lehloenya herself of “deliberate obfuscation” and said the affidavit – and the allegations against the Office of the Premier – should be investigated by the Special Investigating Unit.
He said the SIU on Friday had informed him that his request for such an investigation was granted as part of their investigations under the Presidential Proclamation R20 of 2020.
Makhura said his personal integrity was in question as a result.
Masuku was fired because the SIU found that he failed to execute his functions in compliance with the Constitution and the Public Finance Management Act in his oversight of the PPE procurement.
ANC provincial secretary Jacob Khawe said the party has received Makhura’s request and “agreed that we got to get all the details of the case and report to the PEC before any process”.