HOSPERSA CRITICISE GOVERNMENT’S SLOW ACTION IN NORTH WEST PUBLIC HEALTH PROBE

 

 

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HOSPERSA CRITICISE GOVERNMENT’S SLOW ACTION IN NORTH WEST PUBLIC HEALTH PROBE 
01 March 2018

 

Hospersa has welcomed the announcement of a forensic audit into the North West (NW) Department of Health (DoH) following the recent corruption scandal involving the province’s Health Head of Department (HOD). However, the Union questions the delay that it has taken for such an audit to be conducted in light of numerous cases of alleged corruption and maladministration being reported.  Hospersa has pointed the finger of blame to the Minister of Health for allowing corruption to run riot in his department while warning signs were being sent to his office without any reply.

Last week it emerged that the HOD in the North West (NW) Province has links to state capture through the awarding of a contract to a “Gupta-linked” healthcare organisation called Mediosa for the procurement of mobile clinics.  It also emerged that the HOD and a delegation from his department took an extravagant trip to India, seven days after Mediosa received their payment.  Legal charges have since been brought against the HOD and they include fraud and corruption, contravening the Public Finance Management Act (PFMA) as well as being in contempt of the legislature.  The Union welcomed these charges and asked for more probes into other alleged corrupt deals linked to the HOD reported by the Union.  One such dubious deal is contract NWDOH47/205 which was awarded to Marang Turnkey Solutions (Pty) Ltd for the rendering of health professionals and hospitality staff in the NW Province for a period of three years as well as for the outsourcing of ambulance services.

“Hospersa has been at the forefront on speaking out against corruption in NW public health,” said Hospersa General Secretary Noel Desfontaines.  On 5 July 2017, we wrote a letter to the Minister of Health asking him to immediately direct the NW Department of Health (DoH) to suspend contract NWDOH47/205 which came into effect in June 2017 and to further investigate the contract’s necessity, the fairness of the rates charged by the service provider and the source of its funding.  The Minister did not respond to our letter,” said Desfontaines.

“We then organised a march on 1 September 2017 to put pressure on the DoH in the NW province to address this outsourcing saga and handed a memorandum to the province’s HOD.  The HOD denied any wrong doing in the awarding of contract NWDOH47/205 and emphasized that there was no basis to investigate the contract’s awarding.  Today he is facing criminal charges for a similar type of contract,” added Desfontaines.

It has also been reported that there is over forty (40) brand new ambulances parked at the department’s provincial offices while private ambulance companies loot million of rands from the department’s coffers.  It emerged that Buthelezi Emergency Medical Services (EMS) and High Care EMS have allegedly raked in about R10 million and R4 million respectively on a monthly basis for transporting patients between health institutions in the NW province.

The NW Province Premier, Supra Mahumapelo has now announced that there would be a forensic probe in the department following the recent controversies including contracts awarded to Buthelezi EMS.  The same contractor is also under fire in the Free State province over more procurement irregularities.  It is alleged that Buthelezi EMS has pocketed over R600 million in payments from the Free State DoH since 2013 and continues to service the province.

“After many years of highlighting corruption in the NW province, it seems the chicken are finally coming home to roost.  We commend the Premier of NW for announcing this much-needed probe even though it is coming a tad too late” said Desfontaines.

“We have to also question the Minister’s [of Health] performance in dealing with corruption in his department,” argued Desfontaines.  “We have written to the Minister on a number of occasions, pleading with him to intervene on the many red flagged tenders and contracts in his department.  Instead, he has ignored our repeated calls,” added Desfontaines.

“It is high time that the Minister recognises the importance of talking to us as we are a social partner with government.  The Minister and his team should also communicate the contingency plans in place to ensure service delivery at public health facilities is not affected when the reported irregular contracts in his department are cancelled,” said Desfontaines.

“We will once again write to the Minister to pose this important questions to him.  Hopefully this time, we will receive more than just an email acknowledgement from his office,” concluded Desfontaines.

 

-ENDS-

 

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For interviews please contact Hospersa General Secretary Noel Desfontaines – 083-321-4427.

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