President Zuma’s visit to Hangberg calls for improved intergovernmental cooperation toward reducing drug and alcohol related harms

Albert Fritz

Western Cape Minister of Social Development

The Department of Social Development notes President Zuma’s visit today to the Western Cape Department of Social Development-funded outpatient drug treatment centre in Hout Bay. We are glad that he was able to see the value of this and other treatment programmes in the province, and to learn about how they are helping individuals and communities to manage drug and alcohol related harms.

It is unfortunate, however, that this visit was not communicated to the Western Cape Government, especially given that the programme he visited today is run from one of our Department of Health clinics. This led to the president walking straight into a clinical treatment session, completely unannounced, flanked by security police and television cameras. It is important that government at all times maintains professional standards at its clinical substance abuse programmes, and key to this is patient confidentiality and privacy. Had this province been aware of his visit beforehand, we would have ensured that it was properly coordinated, and did not interfere with the operations of the programmes being visited.

Now that the president has seen first-hand the Western Cape Government’s efforts to address the need for treatment programmes, we hope that he will turn his attention to the provision of specialised drug and gang units in the SAPS, a critical need that has so far been resisted by his Minister of Police. This will go a long way to combat the distribution of illicit drugs that sadly end up destroying families, and demonstrate a much needed commitment to intergovernmental cooperation toward reducing drug and alcohol related harms in this province.

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