The DA’s Jack Bloom during a Hospital Queue Campaign in Gauteng.

JOHANNESBURG - South Africa's main opposition Democratic Alliance said on Monday the health department in Gauteng province had  failed to spend R559 million on capital assets in the last financial year ended March 31, despite what it called a huge need for new machinery and hospital buildings which were falling apart.

The DA said the department’s fourth quarter report covering January to March 2018 period showed that only R1.564 billion or 73 percent was spent out of a R2.123 billion budget for capital assets. It said R443 million was underspent for machinery and equipment, and R115 million of the capital budget was not spent on buildings and other fixed structures.

"The department’s chronic inability to spend on capital assets continues in this financial year with a freeze on all new building projects," DA shadow member of the executive for health in Gauteng Jack Bloom said.

"This means that urgently needed projects like extra wards at the Edenvale and Tembisa hospitals and new hospitals in Kempton Park, Daveyton and Soshanguve will be further delayed."

Because of overspending in other areas, the overall underspend for the 2017/18 financial year was R179 million, Bloom said, adding this highlighted poor financial management "in a department that has a deep budget hole which leads to suppliers not paid on time and deteriorating health services".

- African News Agency (ANA)