Limpopo health department probes coal tender scandal allegations | News24

Limpopo health department probes coal tender scandal allegations | News24

Limpopo health department probes coal tender scandal allegations | News24

Limpopo Health MEC Phophi Ramathuba.

Limpopo Health MEC Phophi Ramathuba.

Sandile Ndlovu, Gallo Images, Sowetan

  • The health department in Limpopo is under fire for a multi-million rand coal supply tender to 14 hospitals.
  • The earmarked hospitals do not have facilities to use coal. 
  • The department says it has launched an investigation into the matter. 

The Limpopo Department of Health has found itself in a storm over a controversial coal supply tender for 14 hospitals, as many of the facilities do not use the fuel source.

Earlier this week, the Conty Lebepe Foundation, a non-governmental organisation, raised the alarm about possible wrongdoing.

It approached Limpopo Health MEC Phophi Ramathuba about the matter.

A statement from the department said Ramathuba had instructed the head of the department, Mutheiwana Dombo, to launch a probe into the allegations.

A letter written by a chief director in the department to a senior finance official seems to confirm a multi-million rand contract was issued to supply coal to 14 hospitals.

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In the letter, the chief director asked for one of the leads on the project to “provide a report with reasons” why facilities which don’t use coal were included in the bid specification.

Department spokesperson Neil Shikwambana said in a statement that the MEC instructed the acting HOD to investigate the matter.

“While the internal investigation was still in progress, internal official documents were leaked into the public domain.

“The department believes that the leaking of these documents seeks to undermine the ongoing investigation and also to delegitimise its potential findings,” Shikwambana said.

He said the department had also sought the assistance of law enforcement agencies on the matter.

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He added that no work was done, nor payment made toward the tender.

The DA in the province said the department had never raised the issue of an internal investigation with the legislature’s portfolio committee on health.

The party said:

This is no surprise for a department that has shown to be adverse to accountability and transparency over the years.

It added that it had written to the portfolio committee chairperson to expedite that the MEC and acting HOD appear before the committee to provide details about the matter.

Action SA promised to follow “this allegation of corruption until we get to the bottom of this injustice”, while the Public Servants’ Association (PSA) said the claims were “extremely concerning”.

The PSA said it hoped that after “numerous scandals” that even led to probes by the Special Investigating Unit would have led department officials to be more “cautious and diligent” in awarding contracts.

“The fraudulent awarding of tenders has cost the department vast amounts and it would thus have been expected that the department would be more cautious and diligent after experiencing numerous scandals that resulted in investigations by the Special Investigation Unit,” said the union in a statement this week.