Parliament concerned about Eastern Cape’s shortcomings to tackle Covid-19
Johannesburg - Parliament said it was concerned and frustrated that the Eastern Cape department of health’s strategies to address constraints in tackling the Covid-19 pandemic lacked definite time frames, among other shortcomings.
The Eastern Cape is the third hardest-hit province by the coronavirus in the country, and as of Wednesday had recorded a cumulative 67,818 cases, or 17.2 percent of the national tally of 394,948.
A statement issued by the legislature late on Wednesday said members of the portfolio committee on health and select committee on health and social services had expressed concern during a joint meeting that the province's systems were not ready to grapple with rising infections.
"We are not happy with certain things that are happening, but we commend the work that is being done by the Eastern Cape project management unit," chairperson of the portfolio committee Dr Sibongiseni Dhlomo said.
The Eastern Cape has faced criticism for its incompetent handling of the virus outbreak and Health Minister Zweli Mkhize on Wednesday visited two hospitals in the province to assess their responses.
Mkhize noted that oxygen piping was a big problem in the province, among other practical challenges to fighting Covid-19, but said these could be solved.
In their joint statement, Parliament's health committees quoted Mkhize as saying that while the Eastern Cape had challenges and weaknesses, invoking section 100 of the Constitution as suggested by some committee members "is something we are aware of as a possibility, but we are not there yet".
Under section 100 of South Africa's Constitution, the national executive is given the power to intervene when a province fails to fulfill an executive obligation in terms of legislation or the Constitution itself.
"According to Dr Mkhize, the issues raised by the committees on staffing, ambulances, corruption, shortages in oxygen supply, and other infrastructure challenges are matters that the department of health is well versed in and are being attended to by the province," the parliamentary committees said.
African News Agency (ANA)