The Eastern Cape Department of Health is in crisis. Patients are dying on floors in our state hospitals and frontline workers have the highest rate of Covid-19 infections in the country, and what does out MEC of Health, Sindiswa Gomba, do?
Instead of focusing on the crisis at hand, our MEC of Health decided to launch the procurement of 100 1920’s-style scooters, parading up and down the East London esplanade, while her colleagues clapped and cheered.
The backlash to the launch on social media is telling, and has seen both provincial and national departments immediately backtracking on the purpose of these vehicles, contradicting the MEC, who clearly stated at the launch that these vehicles would be used to ferry patients from rural parts of the province.
MEC Gomba is delusional to believe that these scooters will function for any length of time on our rural roads when off-road ambulances have been destroyed by them.
The exercise has cost the Department a reported R10,1 million, for what has now effectively been downgraded to health education and awareness props.
This at a time when the Department owed suppliers and service providers over R3 billion at the end of the last financial year and is factually insolvent with contingent liabilities of almost R30-billion!
This entire Scootergate saga smacks of corruption!
The money spent on scooters would have been far better spent on fixing the hundreds of ambulances that are standing still, waiting to be repaired, or better yet on ensuring that frontline workers are suitably equipped with Personal Protective Equipment (PPE).
It is abundantly clear that this department is unable to fulfil its obligations in delivering health care to the people of the province.
I will be writing to the Minister of Health, Dr Zweli Mkhize, to request that the Eastern Cape Department of Health be placed under administration in terms of Section 100 (1) (b) of the Constitution (Act 108 of 1996) with immediate effect, to ensure that appropriate levels of accountability and competence are restored to the department in order to ensure effective health care delivery.
I will also be submitting parliamentary questions around the bidding and tender processes for these scooters, to determine if this was indeed open and competitive, but also to establish what needs analysis was done that led to the bid in the first place.
The continued failures by the provincial health department are inexcusable. The leadership are playing with the very lives of the people they swore an oath to serve.
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