An investigation has been launched into two contracts worth an estimated of R60-million awarded by the Limpopo health department to Tshepo Malema, cousin of African National Congress Youth League (ANCYL) president Julius Malema.
The contracts, which the health department says may have been irregularly awarded in April, are for supplies to Limpopo hospitals.
According to the department, one of the contracts is to provide stickers for medicine bottles, and the other to provide transfer forms that hospitals use to issue a transfer note for patients being referred to other hospitals.
According to insiders in the Limpopo government, one contract amounts to R29-million, while the other is for more than R30-million. These figures could not be independently verified.
Departmental spokesperson Joe Maila told the Mail & Guardian that an internal investigation into the awarding of these contracts is being conducted.
“We suspect somebody is manipulating the process and that there is a problem at our medical depot relating to this,” he said.
He confirmed the existence of the contracts.
“There are such contracts, but we can’t divulge details; it may influence the investigation.”
He added that the contracts were awarded in April, but suspicion was raised and the department started to investigate in May. He could not say when the investigation would be concluded.
Two Limpopo insiders told the M&G money from the contracts was to be used to fund Julius Malema’s campaign for a second term as ANCYL president, but this could not be independently confirmed.
‘I didn’t even know about the investigation’
Tshepo Malema admitted he has contracts with the Limpopo health department, but would not divulge details.
“Yes, I have contracts. I am a young growing businessman and part of my work is not to respond to newspapers.”
He added: “I didn’t even know about the investigation. Anyway, I have not received any payment from them. Maybe you can ask them about that.”
The insiders allege that the premier’s office issued an order for the contracts to go ahead. Premier Cassel Mathale’s office, however, denied his involvement.
“The premier is not responsible for the awarding of contracts in government. Supply chain management issues are governed by the Supply Chain Management Framework Act,” spokesperson Phuti Mosomane said. “All departments are guided by this legislation when they deal with procurement matters and the premier does not play any role in this process.”
Insiders say these contracts were rushed through by the provincial government, without following the normal procedure of advertising a tender and waiting for bids from companies.
“They got three quotations for each contract, but the companies were all owned by the same people. So they chose one and the money was released very quickly,” said one insider, who is a local businessman.
The provincial minister for health in Limpopo, Miriam Segabutla, was replaced earlier this year after various news reports showed irregularities in the awarding of tenders in the department. Her replacement is Dikeledi Magadzi, who has, together with the head of the department, ordered the investigation.