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Health dept denies China trip expenses

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Makatong and Jack had decided not join the rest of the executive committee members who travelled to Dubai and China from April 7 to 18

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THE NORTHERN Cape MEC for Health, Fufe Makatong, has denied pocketing travel allowances for an overseas trip and explained that she had decided not to join the delegation to Dubai and China as she had to attending to pressing challenges on home soil.

This follows after the DA called on Makatong to account for
R500 000 of taxpayers’ money that they claim was used on the excursion.

DA provincial leader Andrew Louw said that the expenses incurred for the MEC and head of ministry, Xolile Jack, to travel to China had resulted in fruitless and wasteful expenditure.

“Payments made for the trip were not reclaimed by the department. At the same time, Makatong and Jack are believed to have retained the travel allowance paid out to them, while the reason for the intended trip has yet to be established,” said Louw.

“At a cost of R250 000 per person, one can only assume that they were intending to fly first class and stay and dine at top-class hotels and restaurants.”

Louw believed that the money could have been better spent on procuring a mammography machine for the Dr Harry Surtie Hospital in Upington, or fixing the collapsing infrastructure at the Robert Sobukwe Hospital in Kimberley.

Spokesperson for the Office of the MEC for Health, Lebogang Majaha, explained that Makatong and Jack had decided not join the rest of the executive committee members who travelled to Dubai and China from April 7 to 18.

“The department was facing serious service delivery challenges at the time. The department needed to avert potential labour unrest and disruption of health services due to management’s failure to consult with labour. We decided to use the time to engage labour and management and exercise oversight on financial mismanagement and improving health services,” said Majaha.

He denied that R500 000 was spent on the cancelled trip or that the travel allowances were retained.

“No money intended for the provision of health services was squandered on the MEC or head of ministry on the planned trip. Assurances were given that no procurement was made at the time they decided not to accompany the rest of the delegation.”

Majaha challenged Louw to provide proof of the exact dates when such procurement and payments were done.

“Luxury is the last thing in the agenda of MEC Makatong.”

Majaha stated that the MEC had publicly committed to eradicating wastage and corruption and had made great strides in repairing the health care system in the Province.

“Makatong will not tell lies and claim to care for the sick and vulnerable in society with the hope of scoring political points for 2019. She remains intent on rooting out corruption and wastage in the department and will expose any officials involved in such offences.”