ANC agrees to debate DA’s motion: patient complaints must be taken seriously

By Jane Sithole, MPL, DA Chief Whip in the Mpumalanga Legislature:

The following speech was delivered by the DA Chief Whip, Jane Sithole MPL, during a Provincial Legislature debate on suggestions and complaints boxes at clinics.


Hon. Speaker, on the 31st of March during a sitting, this house rejected a motion tabled by the DA to urge the Department of Health to ensure that the suggestions and complaints boxes at public health facilities around the province are made operational with immediate effect.


This comes after the department’s spokesperson Dumisani Malamule’s utterances in the media where he stated that the public should make use of suggestion and complaints boxes available to air their views.


The DA urged the Department’s spokesperson to stop misleading the citizens of Mpumalanga and rather concentrate on ensuring that these boxes are functional in order to afford members of the public an opportunity to contribute in the improvement of health service delivery in the province.


Mr Malamule continued to tell the media that the department does not answer to the DA – But I am sure by now he has learned and realised that through this house, the DA will continue to represent voters and we don’t need his permission to hold the executive to account. We will continue to play our oversight role without any fear or favour.


Hon. Speaker, Chapter 6 of our Constitution states that MECs are accountable to the Provincial Legislature, both individually and as a collective executive.


These patient comment boxes are meant to be used to guide health facilities to better the services they render to communities.


So, Hon. MEC and Mr Spokesperson, you are accountable to the DA and all other political parties represented in this house.  Unfortunately as this motion comes before the house you haven’t even bothered to attend to any of the clinics’ suggestion boxes that were raised in that motion.


What is the purpose of having these suggestion and complaints boxes if they are never open, keys are missing, no one is attending to the complains, and with no clinic committees in many clinics to consider the suggestions and complaints?  Maybe the Speakers who are coming after me can enlighten the house on this matter. The people are dying to air their views and they need an ear that is not arrogant to listen to them!


At both Nelsville and Valencia Clinics, the complaints boxes have not been opened for more than a year due to the keys being lost. Since the 31st of March, you did nothing.


At the Nelspruit Community Health Centre, boxes have been un-operational since the doors of that clinic opened due to the department’s failure to supply the Centre with padlocks to lock the boxes. Yet, you did nothing.


The White River and Umjindi Clinic committees are currently chaired by DA councillors and even though these boxes are cleaned out and documented on a monthly basis, they are still awaiting feedback on complains lodged ages ago, yet, you did nothing.


Rob Ferreira Hospital has one sister who runs three departments, including having to deal with these complaints, yet, you did nothing about this dire situation.


Msimango clinic in Sakhile Ext 2, Lekwa, there is no suggestion box at all. What are you doing about that? Right now, you are doing nothing!


In eMalahleni, Klarinet clinic has been open for the last 8 months and still no clinic committee to open the box, so the box serves no purpose as no one has opened it thus far.


eMalahleni, clinic in Louis street, has no suggestion box. You have done nothing.


The clinic in Mgababa Hostel in eMalahleni doesn’t have a clinic committee or a suggestion box and it is the worse clinic you would want to send anyone to. It looks horrific. Yet you do nothing.


Poly Clinic in Lynnville, eMalahleni: the keys to the suggestions box still missing to this day.


Both clinics in Vlaaklagte 1 and Vlaaklagte 2 in Thembisile Hani, have suggestion boxes but no one opens them. There is no clinic committee, and yet, you do nothing.


Pankop Clinic in Dr JS Moroka has a suggestion box has been empty for the past year because people are tired of complaining with no action.  This morning the clinic was full to capacity, people are sitting outside on the concrete because today is the day to test for diabetes. But as they sit on the concrete they know nothing will change, because you will do nothing!


22 years back people didn’t have clinics, now they do. However, is this their punishment that as human beings, they must be subjected to unhygienic and dangerous conditions just because they should be grateful to have clinics now as they did not have any during apartheid?


Would you call the clinic at the Mgababa hostel a health facility Hon. MEC? It is an un-health facility.


Our people deserve the BEST, not the very worst, because you do NOTHING.