DA lays charges against former KZN Health Department bosses over alleged R61m mobile clinic tender fraud

Issued by Dr Rishigen Viranna, MPL – DA KZN Spokesperson on Health
16 Jan 2020 in Press Statements

The Democratic Alliance (DA) in KwaZulu-Natal has today laid charges of fraud and corruption (see affidavit here) against several high-ranking former provincial Health department officials, including former Head of Department, Dr Sibongile Zungu, a former Chief Financial Officer and other health department officials named in the report.

The charges, laid at the Durban Central South African Police Service (SAPS), (view photo’s here and here) are in terms of Section 86 of the Public Finance Management Act (PFMA).

The move by the DA follows the release of a Report by the Public Protector (PP) (view here and here) on Tuesday this week. This follows a complaint filed by the DA in 2015 by former KZN Health Spokesperson, Dr Imran Keeka relating to alleged major tender irregularities in the procurement of four mobile health clinics for the province at a cost of R61million, of which only two have ever been delivered.

The PP’s report has substantiated the DA’s claim with following findings, amongst others:

  • That the tender process for the mobile clinics constituted both irregular and fruitless and wasteful expenditure to the tune of R61million with R32m fruitless and wasteful expenditure and the balance considered as irregular expenditure;
  • That the tender awarded to Mzanzi LifeCare for the provision of the units was awarded irregular;
  • That the tender expansion and subsequent extension of services provided by Meditech SA was improper and irregular and that
  • The former HOD and CFO, in particular, failed to take full responsibility and ensure that proper control systems existed for the assets once purchased, as set out in Section 38 of the PFMA, resulting in financial loss to the Department.

The findings are a slap in the face for KZN’s people who have been let down by the very people who were supposed to ensure financial accountability within the already ailing province’s health sector.

What matters now is that they are brought to book. It is for this reason that the DA has proceeded with the filing of charges. It is our belief that the acts detailed within the report warrant further investigation by SAPS, with a view to criminal prosecution.

The issue is also yet another crisis which took place under former MEC, Sibongiseni Dhlomo’s watch during his decade long tenure. That he has now been deployed as Chairperson of the Health Committee in the National Assembly simply beggars belief. If he was not capable of running Health in this province, one shudders to think how he is going to successfully implement the ANC’s NHI plan.

KZN’s two mobile units were introduced with much fanfare by the former MEC in 2015, however, a surprise oversight inspection by the DA later that same year, of both units found that:

  • A minor theatre bed was broken;
  • The same unit had no surgical equipment or medicines while other general equipment was broken;
  • The tap had no running water;
  • There was no x-ray unit and
  • Both the units were filthy and completely unsuitable for their intended purpose.

At the time, former MEC Dhlomo failed to respond to our queries regarding this finding. The DA has now submitted written parliamentary questions to current KZN Health MEC, Nomagugu Simelane-Zulu around the current functionality of these mobile units. We expect her to advise us of their current condition.

Amongst others, the PP’s remedial action recommends that the Special Investigative Unit (SIU) investigate for corruption. The DA will fight for this. In order to fast-track the process of accountability, we will write to KZN Health MEC, Nomagugu Simelane-Zulu to request that she follow the PP’s remedial actions without delay and also present the required Action Plan to the province’s Health Portfolio Committee as a matter of urgency.

Ultimately though, the buck stops with the Premier and DA KZN Leader, Zwakele Mncwango, will write to KZN Premier, Sihle Zikalala to insist that he ensure that the matter is given the attention it deserves and that the millions of rands lost to the provincial coffers, are recovered. It is the Premier that appoints HODs andin the province and he must take responsibility for this.

The ANC’s modus operandi of failing to ensure accountability from officials by deploying them to other areas – or, as in the case of former MEC Dhlomo, parachuting them into higher positions away from the heat – can no longer continue at the expense of the people.

The DA remains committed to its role as KZN’s only real opposition and to exposing the rot that continues to bring our province to its knees. We will not be deterred in the fight for a better KwaZulu-Natal and its people.