The affordable education loan option
Johannesburg - Bread, chicken, fish and vegetables. These are some of the foods Gauteng hospitals have run short of this year because of non-payment to suppliers.
This was revealed in a written reply by Health MEC Hope Papo to questions by DA MPL Jack Bloom in the Gauteng legislature.
Chris Hani Baragwanath Academic Hospital - the worst hit - has had shortages of bread since May to date, with 510 loaves a day not delivered.
Chicken, fish and frozen vegetable deliveries have been “erratic” from February till now.
Matimba General Suppliers is still owed about R6 million (of an original R9m), with invoices dating back two financial years.
The supplier’s contract to provide the foods to 11 health facilities began in 2010.
Other suppliers also contracted to supply food to the provincial hospitals went under because of financial difficulties, so Matimba now supplies 25 health facilities.
“There initially were three suppliers. One pulled out last year and the other pulled out in July this year. So we had to cover the whole province,” the owner of the company, who asked not to be named, said on Monday.
“We did our best but the money is not coming in and the pressure and demand were too great.
“Six other companies have since come on board, but we are still waiting to be paid in full and it’s a battle we keep fighting every day.”
In his response, Papo said the supplier’s invoices were incorrect and no goods had been received.
The Matimba owner said there was a general problem with the invoicing system.
“The problem begins when a new financial year comes in because everything changes. So if a supplier is still owed from a previous year and wants to claim for that in the new financial year, the old invoice comes up in the system as nonexistent. But before you write off a debt, you need to pay it off,” he scoffed.
At George Mukhari Hospital in Ga-Rankuwa, cheese, yoghurt, fresh fruit and vegetables, bread, chicken and fish deliveries were badly disrupted throughout the year.
Mike Powell, owner of Khumhold - one of the six companies that supply to the hospital - said it was “absolutely unacceptable” that companies fulfilled their end of the contracts but were not paid when promised.
He said he had been paid only a third of the amount owed from the previous financial year.
“It’s a case of robbing Peter to pay Paul… the department may have a contract with one supplier, and then when it fails to pay that supplier, it pays to get the goods from another supplier, and often the cost of the goods then doubles.
“It is actually criminal, because we supply in good faith and still we haven’t been paid in full.”
Papo stated that between April 1 and May 31 this year, R208 917.52 was paid to get food and supplies off-contract at Steve Biko Academic Hospital in Pretoria because the normal supplier did not deliver.
“It should be noted that the non-delivery of food supplies was more related to a system problem where orders could not be created and less about non-payment,” he added.
In April this year, the hospital ran short of bread, red meat, cheese, eggs and tea.
Papo said that while there was no deviation from the contracts in place at Bara, “when the white meat (fish and chicken) supplier failed to deliver an additional order, a special order for red meat was created. The amount for the red meat special order was R398 775.30.
“With regard to non-delivery of bread, petty cash was utilised and the hospital board paid the shortfall.
“So far, the hospital has spent approximately R30 000 from petty cash and R30 000 from the hospital board.”