Mental Hospital funds are drying out

Harold McGluwa, MPL

DA Northern Cape: Provincial Chairperson

The Democratic Alliance is deeply concerned by admissions made during today’s budget vote presentation by the Northern Cape Department of Health that the funds for the highly controversial and long overdue mental hospital are drying out. This is in spite of the department maintaining that the hospital will be completed in 2014.

It is apparent from the Provincial Medium Term Expenditure Framework, as well as the department’s Annual Performance Plan, that zero funding has been allocated to the mental health hospital for the 2013/2014 financial year. Furthermore, also according to the APP, the mental health hospital is currently only 63% complete, leaving 37% of the project still to go.

MEC Mxolisa Sokatsha acknowledged during the meeting that costs for the construction of the facility had “doubled, if not tripled”.  He also said that the department is struggling to get funds to finish building this hospital and that a lack of money for the project is a concern, especially as a large amount of funds are now going towards the construction of the De Aar hospital. At the same time, however, he said the target for completion remained 2014.

It is no wonder that acting Premier, Grizelda Cjiekella, steered clear of any mention of this hospital during her state of the province address. It is becoming evident that the number of embarrassments caused by this project will only continue to grow. Perhaps if the department had been more resourceful in spending its infrastructure grant in the 2012/2013 financial year, their conditional grant allocation for this financial year would not have been so significantly reduced.

The DA thinks it is high time that the National Department of Health intervenes. Considering all the money already spent on the mental hospital, it would be a sin to let the establishment once again stand incomplete, vacant and unused. The people of the Northern Cape desperately need comprehensive mental health services. Surely they don’t deserve to wait another unknown number of years for this to materialize.

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