Our hero this week has set a good example of how a government department and civil society can work together to fight corruption.
The Mpumalanga provincial health department reacted promptly to a Corruption Watch investigation into alleged irregularities in the awarding of a multi-million-rand tender.
The contract, to provide circumcision to 260 000 men and boys in the province, was worth a lucrative R182-million and was awarded to Mkhago Health Care Services by officials in the department – but without requiring the service provider to go through the tender process, which is required by law for contracts worth more than R500 000.
Corruption Watch launched an investigation into allegations received via an anonymous tip-off, and found that the awarding of the tender was not done according to regulations.
Both Mkhago's director, Dr. Ebby Mkhabela, and his wife, anaesthetist Ramatsemela Mumsy Mkhabela, were implicated in a possible conflict of interest. Mkhabela’s wife was a Mkhago director until December last year and took up a position at Themba Hospital in Mpumalanga four months before the contract was awarded. However, our investigation found no evidence that she was involved in the tender.
The department suspended the R182-million contract and is now conducting its own investigation. For acting promptly and giving this matter the attention it deserves, we make the Mpumalanga Department of Health the Corruption Watch hero of the week.