John Cupido MPL
DA Shadow MEC for Health in the Eastern Cape
On Friday afternoon (6th July 2012), I received a phone call from one of the Port Elizabeth based DA Councillors that was part of a meeting called by the Eastern Cape Health Portfolio Committee that I am a full member of. The councillor was invited as a member of one of the hospital boards, and was not immediately known by the chairperson of the meeting as a DA councillor. This meeting involved and included the so called “rogue” doctors that have spoken out about how the severe clinical staffing shortages and infrastructure backlogs are causing healthcare to regress at an alarming rate at the Port Elizabeth Hospital Complex (Dora Nginza Hospital, Livingstone Hospital and Provincial Hospital). These three doctors are the clinical heads of the respective hospitals. The meeting also included the EC DoH, represented by the SG, Dr. Siva Pillay, members of the various hospital boards and SABC TV News.
As a member of the EC Health Portfolio Committee, I had full right to attend the meeting and according to EC Legislature Rules and democratic principles had to be notified of the meeting.
It was interesting that the SABC TV News was invited to be part of this meeting because the ANC is known for only inviting them when they are sure that only their side of the story will be told, especially if they are sure that outspoken members like myself are unaware of the meeting. This is a clear slap in the face of transparency and the democratic process. It is no more than dirty politics.
When I called and challenged the chairperson of the EC Health PC, Hon. Mxolisi Dimaza MPL, on the issue, I was told that he asked the new coordinator of the committee to notify all the East London and Port Elizabeth based committee members of the meeting. It is imperative that all members of the committee needs to be notified of any and all meetings, regardless as to where they stay. Making “logistical” decisions like this opens a gateway for selective political discrimination. A member can choose for themselves if they are willing and able to travel to a meeting or not. As an East London based member of the committee, I was supposed to be notified, but received no calls, emails and/or text messages.
As the opposition we are used to receiving “last minute” notifications of meetings, and always ensure that we have representation at the respective meetings, but it is time that this practice is stopped.
However, it was reported and verified to myself that at the start of the meeting, the Portfolio Committee chairperson stated that the DA was not invited to be part of the meeting.
I will be writing to the Speaker of the EC Provincial Legislature, to investigate this matter. If the committee coordinator did not contact me, they clearly hampered the democratic process and should be reprimanded for that, but if it is because of an ANC minded directive, procedures and policies need to be put in place to maintain transparency and adhere to the democratic rights contained within our constitution.