James Masango MPL
Provincial Chief Whip of the Official Opposition
Mpumalanga MEC for health Dr Clifford Mkasi botched the perfect opportunity to set the record straight over the closure of the Middelburg pharmaceutical depot, and instead opted for a downright denial – causing even more confusion and uncertainty over job security and the state of health care service delivery in the province.
On Friday MEC Mkasi called a hasty press conference with the intent to “dispel rumours and numerous false assertions” over the department’s performance, and to clear the air around “recent speculations that the medicine depot in Middelburg will shut down for reasons that are still unclear to me”.
The DA finds it baffling how the MEC can continue contradicting himself when he was quoted in the Middelburg Observer of 10 January as saying: “The only solution would be to shut down the pharmaceutical depot and put in place a system whereby drug manufacturers can directly supply hospitals and clinics,” and has not, since that article appeared, retracted his statement.
It is also rather ironic that the MEC replaced his spokesman, Mr Dumisani Mlangeni, on the same day that the DA took him to task for his contradicting remarks which appeared in the Mpumalanga News of 24 January.
The truth is MEC Mkasi’s public relations exercise was a disastrous attempt at damage control, reinforcing the perception that he is a confused political leader, desperately trying to transform the health department, while Premier David Mabuza visits hospitals throughout Mpumalanga highlighting the department’s failures.
With rumours of an imminent cabinet reshuffle doing the rounds; it comes as no surprise that MEC Mkasi is torn by his priorities of bringing decent health care to the people of Mpumalanga, and saving his political career.