The Pretoria high court’s dismissal on Monday of former Gauteng health MEC Bandile Masuku’s application to set aside the report of the Special Investigating Unit (SIU) into personal protective equipment (PPE) procurement irregularities confirms his political negligence in the matter.
That is according to DA spokesperson for health in Gauteng Jack Bloom, who on Tuesday welcomed the high court’s ruling.
Judge Roland Sutherland on Monday dismissed Masuku’s application with costs, finding that the SIU’s finding about his lack of professionalism and care in discharging his functions when he was MEC was justified.
However, Sutherland also ruled the SIU saw no crime having been committed by Masuku, nor did the unit see any basis for civil action against him.
The case was in connection with the awarding of multimillion-rand contracts by the provincial health department to a company owned by the late husband of suspended presidential spokesperson Khusela Diko.
Masuku was ‘deaf and blind’ to risks
Bloom said Masuku was correct to say on Monday that no crime was directly linked to him in the SIU report. However, he said the “absence of evidence is not evidence of absence” and that further investigations could reveal a different story on the matter.
Masuku said in a statement issued by his legal team the court ruling removed any doubt in the eyes of the public that he was involved in corruption relating to PPE procurement or benefited financially from the procurement.
“At this stage, we know that Masuku failed to stop the PPE scandal, which is confirmed by Judge Sutherland’s scathing remarks in his judgment,” Bloom said in a statement.
“According to Sutherland, Masuku was ‘deaf and blind’ to the risks of alleged irregularities in his department and his failure to read his emails was prima facie ‘a confession of unprofessionalism and dereliction of his duties’. Judge Sutherland adds that Masuku’s ‘conduct shows a lack of judgment and diligence’.”
Bloom said Masuku was trying to rescue his political career, but the high court judgment showed that Gauteng Premier David Makhura was correct to fire him as health MEC in October 2020.
He said a similar standard should be applied to other ANC politicians who have “shamefully neglected their duties”, including Gauteng education MEC Panyaza Lesufi whose department spent R430 million on decontamination, disinfection, deep cleaning and sanitisation of schools and offices.
PAIA request sent to ANC
At the same time, Bloom announced that the DA in the province had hand-delivered a Promotion of Access to Information Act (PAIA) request to the ANC in Gauteng for all details of cadre deployments made to public service positions in the province.
“I think this is a contravention of the separation of party and state, which contravenes the Constitution. I think it’s a major reason why we have incompetent and corrupt people in the provincial service in Gauteng, particularly in the Gauteng health department,” he said.
The DA gave the ANC 30 days to provide the information.