Dr Zamani Saul believed that the Province was effectively managing the Covid-19 pandemic where infections and fatalities were lower than predicted.
ANC PROVINCIAL chairperson Dr Zamani Saul believed that the Province was effectively managing the Covid-19 pandemic where infections and fatalities were lower than predicted.
Delivering his address at the first virtual ANC lekgotla for the year, Saul stated that through reprioritisation of the budget R500 million was used to fight the Covid-19 pandemic in the Province.
“The rate of fatalities in the Province is much lower than the national average. For 30 000 positive cases we had 499 fatalities, which is almost half the national average. This is all due to the massive investments that we did as a Province to strengthen the response capacity of public health.”
He added that the funds were used to put up 3 300 Covid beds, purchasing 75 ambulances, 55 clinical outreach bakkies and 10 patient transport buses.
“The appointment of 424 clinical professionals including doctors, nurses and allied health professionals was made at a cost of R197 million per annum.
“R120 million was spent on medical equipment such as ventilators, blood gas analysers, CPAP machines, infusion pumps and automatic defibrillators.
“On top of all these interventions we have 11 Cuban doctors to strengthen our human resource capacity. With all these interventions we managed to beat all projections and modellings on the spread of the virus and fatalities.”
He indicated that while the first surge at the end of September was expected to affect between 23 000-25 000 people and result in 500 fatalities, the Province had in reality 18 000 positive cases and 311 deaths.
“We also managed to beat the projections of the second surge, that by the end of January 2021 we might have about 40 000 cumulative positive cases with more than 1 000 fatalities.
“As we speak, in our Province we have 33 162 cumulative positive cases, 641 succumbed to the virus and 29 517 recovered. The recovery rate in the Province is quite impressive at 90 percent. As the Province we account for 2.1 percent of the population of the country, but we account for 2.1 percent of the cumulative positive cases and 1.3 percent of the fatalities. This is by far less than our share of the population.”
Saul pointed out that it was heart-wrenching that 1 651 frontline health care workers had become infected with the virus while 24 had died as a result of Covid-19 complications.
“This is 0.6 percent of the total number country wide.”
He added that 80 000 households in the Province were provided with food parcels and vouchers during the strict lockdown.
“We introduced social relief packages for artists who were hard hit by the virus. We distributed more than 700 Jojo tanks with 11 supporting water trucks to communities without the necessary water infrastructure. We embarked on a massive campaign of deep-cleaning and fumigation of schools and provided the necessary infrastructure for schools reopening.”
Saul stated that the Covid-19 pandemic had disrupted the economy and brought the country to its knees.
“The virus also caught the 6th administration when it was just eight months in office. It shattered our plans and disrupted our programmes as we had to embark on pandemic planning. This pandemic planning reversed some of the gains that we made. As a Province we are now relatively in control of the pandemic, this is due to a decrease in infections, fatalities, hospital admissions and increased recoveries.”
He added that the Province had to surrender R702 million to national treasury and redirected R529 million as part of Covid-19 intervention measures.
“This weakened our financial position, which led to undesirable moratorium and freezing of all vacant funded posts. Without this intervention by the provincial executive council, provincial government would have now been in a very precarious financial position, where the payment of salaries to 30 000 public servants in the Province would be hanging in the balance.”
Saul stated that more than 82 000 people had lost their jobs in the Northern Cape in 2020.
“The socio-economic impact of Covid is devastating. Many small businesses had to shut their doors, schooling was difficult and the number of poor households has increased.
“Youth unemployment stands at 44 percent. These difficult socio-economic conditions increased the expectations people have on government at a time when the government does not have the fiscal capacity to adequately respond.”
He urged members not to defend wrongdoing and to expose those who sought to enrich themselves.
“We should commit ourselves to the principle that if you are charged you must immediately step aside. The stepping-aside conference resolution should not be a matter of political gimmick in the Northern Cape. We have committed ourselves to the programme of organisational renewal which includes the enhancement of the integrity of the ANC. I cannot with clear conscience be the face of the organisation, that is striving to renew itself, whilst I’m indicted of misappropriation of resources meant for the poor.”
Saul pointed out that members should be guided by correct political principles.
“This requires us to do what is right to the best of our understanding of what the organisation expects of us. When people are brought together by wrong things, to defend each other that is not unity but a facade of unity and more like a match box house soon to collapse.
“Organic unity requires us to expose and disassociate with those who seek to use the ANC to enrich themselves, their families and friends, it also requires us to expose thieves within our ranks and to be steadfast in our commitment to principle and protecting the integrity of our organisation.”
He acknowledged the poor state of struggling municipalities.
“We need to defend the majority in all 31 municipalities. This won’t be an easy task taking into cognisance the bad and unimpressive state of municipalities in the Province. This state was worsened by the advent of Covid-19. Just last year alone our municipalities lost more than R800 million in revenue.
“The payment culture dropped drastically in all municipalities and most municipalities could not implement their credit control policies because of Covid-19. This placed most of our municipalities in a precarious financial position and many are now even struggling to pay salaries.”
Saul stated that municipalities were confronted by political infighting, interference and instability, poor oversight, inaction and were unable to provide services.
He highlighted the need to urgently address the high vacancy rate of chief financial officers, technical services, engineers, planners, poor strategic leadership.
“Municipalities are facing financial management challenges, poor audit outcomes, financial distress, high levels of irregular expenditure and adoption of unfunded budgets.
“We need to change the negative perception our people have about our municipalities.”