By Mariette Pittaway, DA MPL in the Free State Provincial Legislature:
The report made public today by the Treatment Action Campaign (TAC), following a two day People’s Commission of Inquiry held in July earlier this year, where the DA was present, echoes the DA’s stance to the extent of the Free State Health Crisis.
Several recommendations have been made in the report, which again resonates with those the DA has tabled repeatedly over these last several years.
The DA’s findings are:
- Premier Ace Magashule, Health MEC Benny Malakoane, have failed to acknowledge the extent of the crisis and its causes and has continuously denied the extent of the crisis and how it negatively affects people’s lives.
- Entrenched and structural financial and administrative mismanagement within the department continues to manifest resulting in regular medicine stock-outs, poorly equipped medical facilities and severe staff shortages of doctors and specialists. Poor budgeting processes and the inefficient application of resources further exacerbates the problems within the department.
- Poor security at, and maintenance of, medical facilities, creating an unsafe environment for patients and medical professionals alike.
- The rapid politicisation of management structures, through the ANC’s policy of cadre deployment, at medical facilities resulting in a toxic environment that is not conducive to the delivery of quality and equitable healthcare.
- Failure to implement a proper recruitment and retention human resources policy within the department, resulting, along with the factors raised above, in a massive exodus of skills from the public health system.
The DA has reported the department to the South African Human Rights Commission (SAHRC) for investigation. The SAHRC is yet to make its findings public despite stating that its investigation were concluded months ago. In October, the DA wrote to the Chairperson of the SAHRC, Lawrence Mushwana, requesting from him when the report will be made public and what the reasons for the delay are. I have again today called on the SAHRC to make their report public as soon as possible, so that we can take the matter forward in our bid to bring recourse to the people of the Free State.
Notably, Health MEC Benny Malakoane, and other Health department officials, have failed to engage the DA and the TAC on the crisis.
The DA reiterates that the crisis the Free State Department of Health finds itself in has been brought about by unaccountable and uncaring politicians, like MEC Malakoane and officials within the department, like the Head of Department, David Motau.
MEC Malakoane should have been dismissed from office years ago.
The ultimate responsibility for the health crisis lies with Premier Ace Magashule.
MEC Malakoane has been disastrous for Free State Health. His arrogant and uncaring attitude, as well as his constant denialism to the extent of the crisis, has brought almost unrepairable damage to the public health system in the province.
That Malakoane continues to serve as MEC, despite his poor track record, as well as facing numerous charges of fraud and corruption before court, can only be explained by the ANC’s commitment to party politicians and their self-interest above that of the people of South Africa. A view confirmed by President Jacob Zuma in KwaZulu-Natal this past weekend, that the ANC comes before the country.
It is now clear more than ever that Premier Magashule places his political interests above that of the people of the Free State.
The DA commends the TAC for engaging the Free State Health Crisis head on. The testimonies we have heard are that of pain, suffering and death. It is unfortunate that neither Premier Magashule nor MEC Malakoane bothered to attend these public hearings.
However, the only solution to fix the Department of Health and turn the situation around, remains a political solution. The ANC can no longer be entrusted with the care and wellbeing of the people. It is time for the people of the Free State to hold the ANC and its leaders accountable through the ballot box.
Where the DA governs, our hospitals and clinics are well equipped, well-staffed, and well stocked, delivering ‘private quality-like’ healthcare to all those who need it, in state of the art medical facilities. The DA can bring this ethos of quality and equitable public healthcare services to the people of the Free State.