A hundred scooters that have been provided for health workers to do their fieldwork and home visits in the Eastern Cape received a backlash from the public. Picture:  Health MEC Sindiswa Gomba/Facebook
A hundred scooters that have been provided for health workers to do their fieldwork and home visits in the Eastern Cape received a backlash from the public. Picture: Health MEC Sindiswa Gomba/Facebook

Covid-19 exposed how corruption, incompetence collapsed E Cape health system

By Editorial Time of article published Jul 1, 2020

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When Covid-19 first reared its head in South Africa in March, we predicted in this column that it would test the country’s health-care system and likely show up the failures of ANC governance at all three levels of government.

Nowhere has that failure of governance been starker than in the Eastern Cape, where a cocktail of corruption, indifference and sheer incompetence has ensured that the mostly rural province has the third-highest number of Covid-19 infections.

The public health-care system in the Eastern Cape has been in dire straits for decades, and as some commentators have pointed out, has finally collapsed under the strain of Covid-19 infections.

Subjected to poor public services most of those who could, have left the Eastern Cape for Gauteng and the Western Cape. Stats SA’s figures show that 338802 left the province between 2006 and 2011.

Because of the lack of viable economic opportunities in the province, the supply of goods and services to the provincial and local governments have been the most lucrative business opportunities and feeding trough for corrupt civil servants and senior political leaders.

It should come as no surprise that in some dark corners, crooks in suits were rubbing their hands in glee when Covid-19 appeared on the horizon like the Grim Reaper.

Instead of coming up with ways to manage the sheer number of people seeking care at the province’s under- resourced public hospitals, Eastern Cape health MEC Sindiswa Gomba is remembered not for leadership, but her sheer incompetence.

Instead of improving the province’s public hospitals, the provincial health department entered into a tender to procure 100 Chinese-built motorbikes at R100000 each to transport the sick in rural areas.

Those calling for the province to be placed under administration don’t know the power of political patronage. Because the Eastern Cape ANC was a crucial voting bloc supporting his presidential ambitions, it’s unlikely that Cyril Ramaphosa will pull the plug on the cesspool of incompetence and corruption.

Those who have grown frustrated will either have to leave or the ANC has to face the real prospect of electoral defeat before any meaningful action is taken.

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