It is very disturbing that the government does not have alternative plans to supply electricity for critical services like healthcare during load shedding.
The millions spent on President Jacob Zuma’s Nkandla home and the money Gauteng Premier Nomvula Mokonyane used to refurbish her swimming pool should have been used to provide electricity and back-up generators for health facilities.
This was Mmusi Maimane’s stance on Sunday while addressing a handful of DA supporters as he donated a generator to the Protea South Clinic in Soweto.
The DA decided to donate the generator to the battling clinic after Maimane spoke to a woman who had gone to the clinic a few weeks ago to collect her antiretroviral drugs but found it closed due to lack of electricity.
Maimane, the DA’s Gauteng premier candidate, said load shedding was due to lack of planning by the government.
“Why are we today still not alleviating pressure on the grid to make sure we can supply the requisite electricity?
“I think that as long as we don’t provide direction in terms of where our expenditure must go, this is but one disaster in energy.
“It will soon arrive in areas such as water and other spaces that are critical for economic growth,” he said.
While the electricity situation was bad, load shedding made it worse, Maimane said.
The clinic is surrounded by shacks that are not electrified, and residents of the informal settlement allegedly steal electricity from the clinic, nearby houses and electricity poles.
While Maimane was addressing the DA supporters, some men were connecting electricity illegally just metres away.
Residents said the situation was so bad that the clinic closed down in winter because there was hardly ever electricity, forcing them to go to Chiawelo Clinic, and spend money on a taxi to get there.
Pamela Mnisi said the issue with electricity and not having back-up generators cost a little boy his life last year.
Mnisi, who is pregnant, said the boy, who had breathing problems, was rushed to the clinic last year.
The clinic, however, did not have electricity and the boy could not be given oxygen.
There was also no ambulance to rush him to Chiawelo Clinic.
He later died, Mnisi said.
“At least with this generator we will have an alternative. Chiawelo (clinic) is already carrying the whole of Soweto on its shoulders,” she said.
Gauteng Department of Health spokesman Simon Zwane said he was not aware that the clinic had battled with power but that it was “well known that electricity in the township is a challenge”.
He said they had not provided the clinic with a generator because the clinic was owned by the municipality.
Zwane dismissed the residents’ claims that the clinic often closed due to a lack of electricity, saying that if ever there was no power, it was in the evening when the clinic was closed for the day.
“People are just politicking,” he said, “that is not true.”