PP must investigate FState Health contracts – DA

Party believes contracts were awarded due to political considerations

DA asks Public Protector to investigate FS Health contracts with Buthelezi EMS, Mediosa and Halo Aviation

3 July 2018

The DA has today requested Public Protector, Adv. Busisiwe Mkhwebane, to investigate three controversial contracts the Provincial Department of Health entered into with Buthelezi EMS, Mediosa and Halo Aviation. Our submission can be seen here and here.

We are of the opinion that these contracts were awarded due to political considerations, that they are inflated, and that there is no real value for money. We also believe that the hundreds of millions of rands spent over the last three to four years could have been better applied to expand the capacity of emergency, mobile clinic services and patient transported services in the Free State within the Provincial Department of Health.

The company registration details of each contractor show that these entities either laid dormant, or were established just prior to the awarding of these contracts, creating the suspicion that these contracts were awarded to either resurrect business activity and/or that the companies were formed for the purpose of being awarded these lucrative contracts. Which questions the ethics and fairness of the entire process in contracting these services which should be to the benefit of the people of the Free State and not political cadres and cronies of the ANC.

The Buthelezi EMS contract expired in August 2017, and have since been renewed on a month to month basis while the Department delayed the calling for invitations of a new tender, and has since been dragging its feet to adjudicate on the bids received. This is extremely problematic since the Department knew the exact date of the termination of this contract and could have advertised invitations for a new tender long before the expiry date.

More controversial yet is that former Premier Ace Magashule unilaterally appointed the Head of Department, Dr Motau, as the accounting officer of the Provincial Department of Health for the period 02-10 February 2017, despite the Department being under Provincial Treasury administration. During this period Dr Motau facilitated the approval of price increases under the Buthelezi EMS and Halo Aviation contracts. We are of the opinion this action by the then Premier was deliberate for the purpose of the approval of the price increases.

Mediosa, a Gupta-linked company, was awarded a contract for mobile clinic services, and received a generous R10 million advance payment. The DA is of the opinion that this decision was politically motivated. It is interesting to note that this company shared directors with Halo Aviation, as company registration details show.

The DA is of the opinion that the Halo Aviation contract, in joint venture with Buthelezi EMS (arguably with links to Mediosa) for emergency air transportation of patients are extremely inflated. We have also informed of allegations that the decision to dispatch airlifting services are controlled by departmental officials. We would like to know whether these decisions are based on emergency medical needs in each case as informed by qualified Emergency Services Personnel and/or a medical officer. The DA also finds it irregular that under a contract for medical air transportation services, the same company will also refurbish or construct new infrastructure to support this service, a function which lies with the Department of Public Works and Infrastructure.

With regards to all three contracts the DA is of the opinion that these were awarded on political considerations for the purposes of funnelling money away from improving health services in the Free State. Somebody somewhere benefited tremendously from these contracts and we expect the Public Protector to get to the bottom of it with the urgency it deserves.

Issued by Mariette Pittaway, DA MPL, 3 July 2018