DA MPs enraged after being blocked at hospital
Durban – The DA says it will lay criminal charges against KwaZulu-Natal Health MEC Nomagugu Simelane-Zulu after its MP, Siviwe Gwarube, was blocked from conducting oversight inspections at a health facility.
An enraged Gwarube said instead of being allowed into Stanger Hospital in KwaDukuza, on the North Coast, on Tuesday, she and the DA MPs enraged after being blocked at hospital accompanying her were confronted by security guards who denied them access.
She said police later arrived to remove them from outside the premises where they had waited to talk to the hospital management about their visit.
“The hospital management was honest in stating that they were instructed to refuse us entry into the facility.
“Despite numerous calls to the MEC and HOD explaining the provisions of the Constitution, the rules of Parliament and the importance of oversight work, this was met with antagonism and misplaced arrogance which is underscored by a misunderstanding of the law,” said Gwarube.
She alleged that Simelane-Zulu had barred all oversight inspections in the province “unless they have been authorised by her”.
“A fundamentally illegal protocol which facility management follows due to fear of victimisation.
“Clearly the MEC does not understand the constitutional provision of separation of powers,” she said.
Gwarube said she had written to Simelane-Zulu and the provincial health head Dr Sandile Tshabalala last week alerting them about the inspection.
She said informing the MEC was “a matter of courtesy since members of Parliament were empowered to conduct unannounced oversight inspections at any public institution”.
She said on top of laying charges against Simelane-Zulu, the incident would also be reported to Health Minister Zweli Mkhize and Deputy President David Mabuza.
“He (Mkhize) needs to be aware that there clearly is a problem in the province if it would elicit such unwarranted behaviour from the MEC.
“We cannot be in the throes of a global pandemic and still deal with members of the executive who wholly misunderstand the Constitution. I will be making this case to the deputy president today,” said Gwarube.
She said the inspection visit was prompted by social media reports that a patient in a Pietermaritzburg hospital had died “under appalling conditions”.
“It is unclear why this patient was seemingly left in an outside area. These are exactly the issues that we need to get to the bottom of,” she said.
“The DA will conduct these oversight inspections in many of the hot spot areas. It is our constitutional obligation to ensure that South Africans are being given an adequate health service.”
Simelane-Zulu accused the DA of attempting “to smuggle themselves into the Covid-19 national conversation through the concoction of dubious theories and misinformation”.
She said the department had indicated on numerous occasions that request for a hospital visit was not tantamount to approval.
“Had the DA broken from their sad and unfortunate tradition of seeking publicity at the expense of human suffering and done their homework, they might even have realised that currently, no visitors are allowed in hospitals.
“This is in order to prevent the spread of Covid-19 infections, which may be acquired within a hospital setting or imported by visitors,” said Simelane-Zulu.