FS Health Crisis: Magashule and Malakoane continues on disastrous path of denial

Mariette Pittaway

DA MPL in the Free State Provincial Legislature:

Late last week, Groundup published a damning exposé on the collapse of the public health system in the Free State. The exposé corroborates what the DA has been saying for almost two years now.


While we welcome the exposé, it is unfortunate that the whistle blowers had to remain anonymous, but this is in itself an indictment of the severity of the crisis and the ruthlessness that comes with the politicisation of the civil service


It is a shame that people find themselves once again living in fear of their government, barely 21 years into democracy and freedom.


The response to the allegations by Premier Magashule and Health MEC Malakoane leaves much to be desired. The response validates our view that both Premier Magashule and MEC Malakoane simply refuse to take responsibility for the Free State Health Crisis.


The longer they continue on this destructive road of denial the worse the crisis will become and the more people will suffer as a result of a total collapse of public health.


One of the fundamental problems within the provincial Department of Health is the appointment of cadres to the positions of hospital CEOs. This contributes to the politicisation of the public health services in the province.


Medical personnel working in provincial hospitals and clinics work under dire circumstances. They regularly face medicine and equipment shortages and their safety ethical codes of conduct is constantly at risk. This coupled with the unbearable suffering of thousands of patients can have a severe negative impact on morale and efficiency. It is for this very reason that many doctors and nurses are leaving the employment of the Free State Department of Health to go work in other provinces, like the Western Cape, or the private sector.


The gross mismanagement by MEC Malakoane contributes directly to the medical brain drain from the province.


That both the Premier and the MEC blame medical professionals of having agendas and conspiracies seeking to undermine the provincial government reeks of that peculiar Cold War mentality. It is in fact the provincial government that undermine the abilities of medical professionals to execute their tasks appropriately.


The supposed turnaround strategy tabled by MEC Malakoane has not yielded any positive results. We maintain that it was merely an attempt to ‘keep-the-lights-on’ reworking of the budget. It failed to address critical staff, medicine and equipment shortages, improvement of morale, and addressing the financial shortfall totalling almost R800 million.


Both Premier Magashule and MEC Malakoane celebrate the appointment of doctors, nurses and specialists during the last financial year, but they fail to tell us exactly how many of these have since left the department’s employment.


There is a reason Premier Magashule wants to bring Cuban doctors to work in Free State hospitals. The Cubans know not to question political authority, to do what they are told or else. Cuban doctors are used to working in ill-equipped and under stocked hospitals. They will feel right at home in the Free State.


What will it take for Premier Magashule to see the truth for what it is? Must we all wait for the Human Rights Commission to table its report on the failure of the Department of Health to deliver on its mandate?


While Premier Magashule and MEC Malakoane travel this road of denial they are playing with the lives of the sick, the infirm and the poor.


It is indeed a disgusting and despicable state of affairs.