Parliament - The South African national government will immediately take over the administration and management of the provincial health department in the North West province following violent protest action in the last week, Communications Minister Nomvula Mokonyane said on Thursday.
"Cabinet approved the invoking of Section 100(1)(b) of the Constitution of the Republic of South Africa of 1996 to address the apparent crisis, particularly in the health sector," Mokonyane said while briefing the media on Wednesday's fortnightly cabinet meeting.
"The main objective of this intervention will be to restore trust and confidence between labour and government, assist the province to upgrade its systems and capabilities to a new normality, ensure compliance with the legislative and regulatory framework of government, stabilise the labour environment, restore sustainable service delivery, ensure security of staff and improve financial management."
Several clinics and hospitals have closed prior to and following protest action by unions, Mokonyane said, meaning government had to step in to normalise health service delivery in the province.
"Part of what this section 100 (1) (b) grants as the power of the national government is for both National Treasury and the department of health, on behalf of government, to step in and assume responsibility around matters of management and leadership in the provincial department of health," she said.
In addition, a task team of cabinet ministers will be sent to the province "to establish the facts on the ground" following the protest action which saw angry North West residents call for Premier Supra Mahumapelo to resign.
"They are expected to submit a report in the next two weeks. The report back will assist in determining any further interventions that may still be required."
Mokonyane said the ministers, from the planning, monitoring and evaluation, health, finance, cooperative governance and traditional affairs, as in the justice, crime prevention and security cluster, would not deal Mahumapelo.
"On engaging Premier Supra Mahumapelo on whether he should actually step down, that is not the brief of government and of the team for now," she said.
"It's engaging on the state of governance, the issues that are facing the provincial government and then it will bring all those issues to Cabinet in the next two weeks."
An ongoing strike by health professionals affiliated to the National Education, Health and Allied Workers Union (Nehawu) has been ongoing for over a month, deeply affecting healthcare in the province.
Nehawu’s initial demands included the suspension of the Head of the Health Department, Thabo Lekalakala, who allegedly made a pre-payment of R30-million to the Gupta-linked company, MEDIOSA. They also want performance bonuses, which they say haven’t been paid for years.
Last week, Mahumapelo finally gave in to the pressure and suspended Lekalakala -- based on a preliminary report into the allegations levelled against the HoD.
African News Agency/ANA