Minister Mkhize’s comments are regrettable and a missed opportunity

Issued by Siviwe Gwarube MP – DA Shadow Minister of Health
07 Aug 2020 in News

Please find attached a soundbite by Siviwe Gwarube MP, DA Shadow Minister of Health.

I have noted the comments made by the Health Minister, Dr Zweli Mkhize, regarding my oversight visit to the North West province. These comments are regrettable and quite frankly a missed opportunity for the Minister. He could have used this to shed light on the plans of the North West province to deal with the rising infections of Covid-19. More specifically, he could have given feedback on the status of the building of the Job Shimankane Tabana (JST) field hospital.

Clarity on the oversight in Rustenburg:

As part of the nationwide oversight visits in all nine provinces to assess the readiness of the health system to deal with the Covid-19 peak, I, together with my colleagues in the provincial legislature visited the Job Shimankane Tabana Provincial Hospital. Next to the hospital is an open site which has been ear-marked by the province to build a 300- bed field hospital, in addition to the one that was donated to the province, the Maseve Mine Field Hospital.

I expressed disappointment and confusion on social media about the state of the Job Shimankane Tabana field hospital which is still rubble when work on it began in May. The North West Department of Health has, subsequent to the visit, also confirmed that a field hospital for Rustenburg is in the pipeline. The contention here remains: how come the North West Department of Health is yet to complete the field hospital which has been coming for months? What has the past five months been for, if not to prepare the health system for the impending peak?

Be that as it may, it seems, despite my attempts to clarify my line of questioning and the location of the site visit, my tweet seeking answers was ambiguous. It implied that the field hospital in question was the Maseve Hospital when in fact, I was referring to the JST site on which a field hospital is to be built. It implied that Minister Mkhize’s response about the status of field hospitals across the country included the Job Shimankane Tabana field hospital when it only referred to the Maseve Hospital.

I regret that it wasn’t clearer.

The intention of these oversight visits is to carry out our constitutional obligation of holding the Executive to account and ensuring that Government delivers against its plans for the people of South Africa. There are several facilities which I will be visiting across the provinces and I will continue asking the difficult questions.

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