The Democratic Alliance welcomes the suspension of nine senior officials implicated in the R588m refurbishment of the AngloGold Ashanti Hospital in the far West Rand, but there needs to be political accountability for this scandal as well.
The suspension of three officials from the Gauteng Health Department and six officials from the Infrastructure Development Department follows the recommendation of the Special Investigation Unit (SIU), which found massive irregularities in the contracts for this project.
This hospital was donated by the AngloGold mining company and was supposed to treat serious COVID-19 patients, but the original refurbishment budget of R50m ballooned to R588m. A further R144m has been spent on medical equipment, and more money for staff in an empty hospital.
According to the SIU, six contractors were appointed before prices, scopes of work and bills of quantities were agreed to, and they were working on site even before official purchase orders were issued.
Although the hospital was officially opened in May last year, half of the 175 high-care beds have still not been completed, and only eight serious COVID patients have been treated there.
It’s a colossal waste of money on a white elephant hospital when existing hospitals desperately need more resources that can save the lives of more patients. This includes the fire-damaged Charlotte Maxeke Johannesburg Hospital, where less than R100m has been spent on repairs and many sections are still closed.
According to a reply to my questions in the Gauteng Legislature last year, the entire provincial executive council approved the refurbishment of the hospital even though the building has yet to be officially transferred to the province.
Premier David Makhura cannot escape accountability for the appalling corruption in this matter. He fired Health MEC Bandile Masuku for not exercising effective oversight that would have prevented the PPE corruption, and this principle applies to himself as well.
After eight years in office Makhura’s pledge to fight corruption rings hollow. Politicians overseas have resigned for presiding over much smaller scandals, but all we get are more false promises to fix the corruption mess in his failing provincial government.
Issued by Jack Bloom
DA Gauteng Shadow Health MEC