The decision to fire Eastern Cape health MEC Sindiswa Gomba is based on a goal to clean up the image of the Eastern Cape government.
Premier Oscar Mabuyane revealed this while responding to questions from the media shortly after announcing that he had sacked Gomba.
“We want to preside over a clean sixth administration and deal decisively with chronic problems that have actually been paralysing the administration of our province for some time.
“It was not a good feeling hearing and listening to the media saying the Eastern Cape is the number one corruption centre in this country,” Mabuyane said.
He said the decision will also allow Gomba time and space to focus on the fraud case against her related to the funeral of Nelson Mandela.
Mabuyane has appointed Cogta MEC Xolile Nqatha as acting health MEC until a permanent appointment has been made.
Gomba will, however, remain as a member of the Eastern Cape Legislature, Mabuyane added.
Explaining the basis for his decision, Mabuyane revealed that Gomba has also been implicated in a Special Investigating Unit (SIU) report for wrongdoing alongside former health head Dr Thobile Mbengashe.
This is in relation to the procurement of the infamous scooter ambulances acquired at a cost of R10 million by the health department.
The SIU investigation came after Mabuyane wrote to President Cyril Ramaphosa requesting an SIU investigation into allegations of misconduct in the Eastern Cape’s procurement of personal protective equipment.
Mabuyane said in a final report submitted by the SIU on 12 February, the unit submitted serious findings of misconduct against Gomba and Mbengashe.
“I engaged Ms Gomba on the findings of the SIU report, and in light of the charges she is facing after the NPA [National Prosecuting Authority] re-enrolled the charges, I have taken a decision to relieve Ms Sindiswa Gomba of her duties as the member of the executive council for the Department of Health.
“The decision to relieve Ms Gomba of her duties as [a] member of the executive council will allow her time and space to attend to the case against her,” Mabuyane said.
“This decision is in the best interest of the MEC and of the provincial government. I want to thank Ms Gomba for her service to the people of our province during her time as the MEC for the Department of Health.
“She led the department during the most difficult and trying time of the Covid-19 pandemic.
“I have decided to appoint MEC Xolile Nqatha as the acting MEC for the Department of Health for the time being. The appointment of the MEC of Health to lead the department will be announced in due course,” he said.
Mabuyane said the SIU report confirmed that there was an award made by the department to the company but no public money was spent on the procurement of motorbikes.
“We also note that Ms Sindiswa Gomba is one of the people charged by the National Prosecuting Authority (NPA) for fraud and corruption on a matter related to the preparations for the funeral and memorial service for the late former president Nelson Mandela,” Mabuyane said.
This comes as Gomba and other ANC heavyweights in the Buffalo City Metro region along with officials are facing a string of serious charges, including fraud, corruption, money laundering and contravening the Municipal Finance Management Act.
The group of 15 are accused of misleading the municipality into believing that it had an obligation to make money available for Mandela’s funeral and memorial service in December 2013.
According to the charge sheet, once R10 million was made available, the group acted with a common purpose to defraud and manipulate municipal procurement processes through illegal deviation.
They then allegedly manipulated the situation so that funding could be used for purposes other than what it was officially approved for.
The accused were each released on R1,000 bail and the case was postponed to 5 March for the defence to be furnished with copies of the docket and so that four more people could be brought to court.
Gomba could not be reached for comment.