Public Protector confirms maladministration and irregularities in procurement of Cuban medicines by SANDF

Issued by Kobus Marais MP – DA Shadow Minister of Defence and Military Affairs
30 Sep 2022 in News

Please find attached an English and an Afrikaans soundbite by Kobus Marais MP.

Today I received the long-awaited Public Protector’s report on an investigation into allegations of maladministration and irregularities associated with the procurement of the unauthorised medicine (Hebron) Interferon Alfa 2B from Cuba by the Department of Defence.

This follows my complaint lodged on 19 February 2021 with the office of the Public Protector to investigate the brazen irregularities around the South African National Defence Force’s procurement of (Hebron) Interferon Alfa 2B from Cuba.

The report confirms what the DA has been saying all along, namely that if ever there was a rogue unit in the DoD, it is this group of Military Command Council officials within the Department and the SANDF who have an exaggerated affinity for Cuba and anything Cuban.

The report includes the following:

  • My main allegation that the DOD did not follow a proper procurement process when procuring the drug is substantiated;
  • The DOD contravened the Operation Thusano bilateral agreements between South Africa and Cuba, which they claimed to have relied on to procure the drug;
  • The DOD contravened sections of the Constitution, Treasury Regulations and the DOD Policy;
  • The drug was not registered to treat Covid 19 in South Africa and the DOD senior officials proceeded to bring it into the country on 27 April 2020, prior to them applying for its registration to the SAHPRA. The SAHPRA directed the DOD on 3 November 2021, to return the drug to Cuba; and
  • The DOD spent approximately R 33 million under false pretenses to procure the drug without following the normal procurement processes, which amount has not been recovered to date.

It can be deduced from the report with reasonable certainty that Minister Mapisa-Nqakula, the Minister of Defence at the time and currently the Speaker of parliament, has shared with her executive colleagues on the Corona Command Council, that there were no support for this importation, but still she seemingly did nothing to prevent these irregular, illegal and wasteful actions and expenditure

The absolute disregard for our laws and regulations was confirmed when she and her ANC colleagues flew to Zimbabwe during lockdown onboard a SAAF VIP jet, for which the President punished her.

There seems to be a prevalence of total lack of political will among the ANC executives to uphold the Constitution and laws of our country.

It is clear that the ANC government has little regard for South African laws and regulations as it applies to all other South Africans

The Public Protector obliges the Secretary of Defenece as Accounting Officer of the Department to take appropriate remedial actions within sixty (60) days from the date of this report, to initiate an investigation in terms of section 10 of the Defence Act and take appropriate remedial action in terms of section 8(g) of the Defence Act against the DOD officials involved in the irregular procurement of the drug from Cuba.

I will now hand over the report to the Auditor-General and the NPA for whom it will form an important support to my criminal charges which are currently being investigated by the NPA against some of the persons mentioned in the report.