The DA is demanding that the Military Command Council (MCC) and minister of defence and military veterans Nosiviwe Mapisa-Nqakula appear before parliament to account for the millions the defence force spent on an unregistered Cuban drug to fight Covid-19.
Its call comes in the wake of a statement by the SA National Defence Force on Friday in which it said it had procured Heberon interferon-alfa-2b, a skin cancer drug, from Cuba for use solely by its members who were employed to assist the country in managing the Covid-19 pandemic.
In December, TimesLIVE reported that the auditor-general had confirmed that the defence department had been invoiced an amount of R260m for Heberon interferon alfa-2b, “an unregistered medical drug from Cuba”.
Auditor-general Tsakani Maluleke said her office picked up that nearly R35m of the amount had already been paid.In a statement on Friday, the DA said it seemed clear that the procurement was deliberately done in a crooked manner and that the MCC
“It has also been clear for months that neither the SANDF top brass nor the minister would take any accountability for the millions in taxpayers’ money stolen and wasted on importing a useless drug under the guise of protecting soldiers against Covid-19.
“From the inception of this deception, the MCC has stumbled from one bungling to another. And these are the people in charge of SA’s security — a frightening thought indeed.”
Documents seen by the Sunday Times revealed at the time that the payments to procure the drug were allegedly justified in the defence finance system as “vocational training services”.
A letter by one of the senior generals in the army raised a red flag about the procurement after the SANDF’s COO rejected the payment of invoices for consignments amounting to more than 700,000 doses meant to treat about 400,000 Covid-19 infected patients.