After stumbling through three years of mounting accruals and supply-chain issues, the Gauteng Health Department says it has paid off its R4.4 billion debt.

Health MEC Ntombi Mekgwe admitted that the department had suffered from years of bad management, but met its goal of paying off all suppliers by the end of last month.

She was speaking at a press conference at Charlotte Maxeke Johannesburg Academic Hospital yesterday.

“In April, we released R105 million to service providers and suppliers. This was followed by R1.9bn and R2.4bn in June. A total of R4.4bn was therefore paid from April to June.”

To ensure it doesn’t find itself in the same position again, the department has launched a turnaround strategy to pay suppliers within 30 days of invoice.

The department is also aiming to cut R1.6bn in costs by reviewing its supply-chain and human resources needs. The ministry employs between 64 000 and 69 000 people.

“We’re going to put a blanket moratorium on unnecessary posts and we must curb overtime,” said Mekgwe.

Service provider tenders will also be reviewed to cut back on excess spending.