KZN's cowboy deals: Peggy in the middle
Legal head has blown the lid on President Jacob Zuma ally's role in health department’s rampant noncompliance. Damning evidence led this week in the Labour Court in Durban has lifted the lid on “bribe clauses” in contracts and the reckless spending and alleged cowboy approach to dispensing tenders for kickbacks at KwaZulu-Natal’s health department which contributed to the department, in one year, overspending its budget by an estimated R1.5-billion. Testimony by the health department’s former general manager for legal services, Prenitha Kantha Padayachee, has also reinforced the suspicions about why charges of fraud, corruption and racketeering against the department’s former political head, then provincial health MEC, Peggy Nkonyeni, were dropped last year.
On Tuesday, Padayachee revealed that at a meeting in December 2007, when the department signed off on a deal with Intaka Technology for it to provide oxygen generating machines, Nkonyeni, who had been installed as provincial treasurer the previous year, had indicated to her that she was “under pressure to conclude” the deal to facilitate a “donation” from the company to the party. Intaka is owned by Uruguayan businessman Gaston Savoi, who is charged with bribing officials in KwaZulu-Natal and the Northern Cape for tenders worth more than R86-million.
In an interview with the Mail & Guardian in 2011, he said that he had donated about R3.6-million in separate payments to the ANC, including an amount of R1-million in 2007 into the party’s KwaZulu-Natal coffers. According to Savoi, the payment was made to a Durban law firm at the request of Sipho Shabalala, then boss of the provincial treasury.
Shabalala remains in the dock with Savoi, but the Democratic Alliance is seeking reasons from the National Prosecuting Authority for its decision to withdraw charges against Nkonyeni and her predecessor in the ANC, current provincial economic development MEC Mike Mabuyakhulu, through the courts. Nkonyeni, who was political head of the department when it overspent its budget by R1.5-billion in 2008, denied Padayachee’s claims in a press statement released this week.
In a November 2007 memo to Victor Ntshangase, the department’s general manager for supply chain management, Padayachee raised several queries about a proposed contract with Intaka for onsite oxygen supply for patients, including a “bribe clause” that stated that no money had exchanged hands between the company and department officials in the securing of the contract.... Read the full, comprehensive news article and discuss at Mail & GuardianSimilar Stories