"2018s money will be used to settle 2017s debts, leaving little for services"
THE R234 million security tender awarded by the Department of Health as well as the financial crisis of the Province came under the spotlight, during the debate on the state of the province address (SOPA) yesterday.
DA Provincial leader Andrew Louw pointed out that the Province was on the verge of bankruptcy, where it recorded a bank overdraft of R351,7 million at the end of the previous financial year and a closing deficit of over R109 million.
“If debt continues to rise at this rate, there will eventually be no money left to pay salaries. The result will be a completely dysfunctional provincial government. Accruals exceeding R623 million will have to be paid during this financial year – which means 2018s money will be used to settle 2017s debts, leaving little for services.”
Louw indicated that the premier merely paid lip service to eradicating corruption.
“Her political aspirations motivated her to report an MEC in her cabinet to the Hawks for suspected mismanagement of the Economic Growth and Development Fund and used this to shuffle her cabinet. While there is definitely massive corruption and maladministration regarding that fund, the premier subsequently buckled under political pressure to reverse her reshuffle and still proudly retains the member she reported for corruption.”
He stated that despite promises to prioritise health care, hospitals in the Province were left without critical medical supplies, including dialysis disposals and drip sets.
“The Wege Hospital in Hopetown found itself without diesel for its back-up generators, while Thembelihle Municipality is experiencing excessive power cuts due to unpaid debts to Eskom. For the umpteenth time, the department risked losing life-saving equipment such as CT scanners, oxygen machines and X-ray machines to the sheriff of the court.”
Louw pointed out that that the health department was facing medical negligence claims to the value of R1,2 billion.
EFF Provincial leader Aubrey Baartman believed that processes were flouted when the security tender was concluded with Defensor Security, by the Department of Health.
“We are of the view that the prescripts of the Public Finance Management Act were not adhered to when the tender was awarded. There is no clear plan for health care. Community health care workers should be appointed permanently and should earn a minimum of R4 500 per month.”
He added that the EFF chose not to attend SOPA last week as the party considered it a waste of taxpayers’ money.
“Every year is a repeat of promises to address youth unemployment. Work opportunities are limited and government needs to seriously look at mineral beneficiation to create more jobs.”
He stated that not only were municipalities not performing, but that the were also failing to deliver basic services.
The MEC for Roads and Public Works, Mxolisi Sokatsha, reassured the public that the practical completion of the Kimberley mental hospital, that for many years was an albatross around the neck of the Province, would be the end of March.
In her reply premier Sylvia Lucas insisted that the health security tender was above board.
“I requested the HoD for Health before the appointment of the new MEC to give me an explanation in writing. I saw the documents and asked him to provide me with a written summary. It is not true that processes were not followed. The facts will vindicate the Department of Health.”
She stated that it was due to her intervention with former President Jacob Zuma, that the Kimberley mental hospital was nearing completion.
“Minister of Health Aaron Motsoaledi’s people did not assist us, but we got it right – the mental health hospital is completed. I will engage with the Department of Health on a full time basis to ensure the operationalisation of health facilities.”
Lucas indicated that a number of beneficiaries who were placed on a learnership programme had failed to complete their training.
“We cannot preempt who will finish, as they are selected based on their curriculum vitaes and profiles.
“The Seta’s gave us funding for 1 000 learnerships and internships to be integrated into the workplace, as from April. The Premier’s Office will deploy 12 legal interns to gain practical experience at law firms in Kimberley and the Province. A total of 1 917 health community health workers will be taken up at the Department of Health.”
She announced that a beneficiation programme involving the manufacturing of semi-precious stones that were sourced in the Province, would create job opportunities for young people.
Lucas retorted that the EFF had lost relevance now that the ANC had implemented land expropriation without compensation and free fee education.
“The expropriation of land without compensation is about trying to address inequality and poverty. Land is important for job creation although we need to ensure that there is no disruption to production.”
She stated that there was no obligation to compensate landowners, who had dispossessed indigenous people of what belonged to them.
“History cannot be forgotten. It cannot be considered an attack on humanity if you came with nothing and now own the means of production while indigenous people still remain labourers.”