Limpopo Scopa chairperson refuses to retract statement that Health MEC Phophi Ramathuba collapsed the department and awarded tenders to family.
KARABO NGOEPE AND RUSSEL MOLEFE
PUBLIC accounts watch-dog Scopa’s chairperson in Limpopo has stuck to her guns that Health MEC Dr Phophi Ramathuba collapsed the department and awarded tenders to “family and friends in the Vhembe district to enrich herself”.
Snowy Kennedy-Monyemorato has refused to apologise to Ramathuba after the latter gave her an ultimatum to provide evidence or retract her statement by November 3, 2017.
Ramathuba had sent Kennedy-Monyemoratho a threatening letter dated 30 October 2017 after the Standing Committee on Public Accounts (Scopa) chairperson reportedly said, “the problem with Ramathuba is that she wants to be a doctor, administrator, head of department and spokesperson and this has the committee furious.”
Kennedy-Monyemoratho was also quoted as saying doctor’s commuted overtime had cost the Limpopo Department R2 billion in the last financial year, because doctors were paid between R100 000 and R150 000 a month.
In the letter, seen by African Times, a furious Ramathuba said: “If indeed it is corrected that they were your utterances and you stand by them, I demand that you produce evidence. Failure to which I demand full retraction; written apology to me and the office I represent; public apology in all media houses which published the story.”
The SA Medical Association (SAMA) had also demanded a retraction from Kennedy-Mnyemoratho for her comments that “doctors do as they please”, hence the R2 billion spent in commuted overtime.
However, Kennedy-Monyemoratho this week refused to back down. Instead she upped the ante by calling for the department to be placed under Section 18.
“We are doing our work irrespective of who says what or throws tantrums, we don’t care. Tax payer’s money must benefit the people of South Africa,” she said.
“We can’t keep quiet. What she did is very wrong, and we have to do our work. If the department collapses and can’t take forward its mandate then we must speak, we have a responsibility. We want to know how they will stabilize the department,” she said.
Kennedy-Monyemoratho added that they will be watching all the departments in the province and anyone found to be transgressing will be called to order.
“We will still highlight their mistakes and if they deviate from the PFMA, they must know we will come for them. We are not a talk show at Scopa; we interrogate issues and ask them to take corrective measures. They are busy with tax payer’s money; it’s not someone’s change. They must run the department correctly. If there are irregularities and the accruals are still high, we will interrogate the situation,” she said.
Kennedy-Monyemoratho implied that Ramathuba had abused her office. “She had no right to use the department’s letterhead for personal use. Its unlawful,” she said.
African Times reported last month that the department had awarded maintenance contracts worth R149 million without competitive bidding, in breach of the Public Finance Management Act (PFMA).
The department had appointed a panel of 11 companies without specific evaluation criteria before issuing multi-million contracts to them on three quotations. Provincial Treasury MEC Rob Tooley has since launched a probe into some of the tenders awarded by the Health Department.
Suggesting that the ANC had rapped Ramathuba over the knuckles, Kennedy-Monyemoratho added her committee would continue to interrogate the usage of public funds.
“This is not ANC money, it belongs to the public. The ruling party had to be hard on her and explain that they must not abuse public funds because it makes us look bad. There was a caucus, but I can’t say what was discussed,” Kennedy-Monyemoratho said.
Forum of Limpopo Entrepreneurs (FOLE) secretary Siviko Mabunda said the stance taken by Ramathuba was an attempt to intimidate the chairperson of SCOPA.
“Actually she wants to collapse SCOPA the same way she collapsed the Department of Health. We were shocked when the Premier moved around some MECs claiming that he is reshuffling but he left this MEC in this department that she has collapsed,” Mabunda said.
Provincial Health spokesperson Derrick Kganyago confirmed that Ramathuba did send the letter but indicated that the matter was resolved.
“She did write to the chairperson of Scopa, but she did so in her personal capacity based on what the chairperson said. The chairperson responded, and the ANC got involved but the matter was later resolved,” he said.
Kganyago further added that the letter was based on what was reported in the media. He said Ramathuba took offence to some of the information.
“The MEC said she had problems with what the chairperson said as those things were not discussed at Scopa. She acknowledged everything in good faith and the matter was resolved,” he said.