MyNews24 is a user-generated section of The stories here come from users.

Mariska Kuit
Comments: 0
Article views: 238

Political Accountability: denied

17 March 2017, 11:44

Political Accountability: Denied

“It’s a luscious mix of words and tricks
that let us bet when we know we should fold.”- James Mercer

What happened?

Gauteng Department of Health, under the management of former MEC for health (Member of the Executive Council) Qedani Mahlangu, transferred approximately 1300 psychiatric patients, from Life Esidimedi to at least 27 NGOs (Non-Governmental Organisations). As a result of patients being moved without proper planning and to unlicensed and ill-equipped facilities about 100 psychiatric patients died. The Minister of Health instructed the Health Ombudsman, Dr. Makgoba, to investigate the circumstances surrounding these deaths. The Health Ombudsman released his report containing damning findings on 01 Febuary 2017.

How did it happen?

In this case (as is with all government related conduct) a distinction between Public Office Bearers and State Administration which constitutes Public Service Officials is necessary. Public Office Bearers (elected in accordance with a system of democratic government) have different powers and functions from public service officials. Public Office Bearers are responsible for participation in policy processes and are accountable to the respective legislatures and the public whereas public service officials are, in contrast, responsible for executing legislation and policies. It must also be remembered that although these have to be distinguished they cannot be separated as the one is dependent on the other and vice versa.

The decision to transfer patients in itself was not illegal as this is provided for as part of the Deinstitutionalisation policy. Deinstitutionalisation is the corner stone of the Mental Health Care Act (2002) and as such the Gauteng Marathon Mental Health Project (GMMHP) was launched to deinstitutionalise mentally ill patients into community based care. It is undoubtedly clear that the decision itself was not the problem but the implementation thereof.

Further investigations revealed more discrepancies in stewardship- such as the fact that the licensing process was unlawful. Unauthorised officials signed documents without proper delegation; NGOs were issued with licences without being properly inspected for compliance and no screening criteria was followed, as prescribed. The Premier stated on various occasions that the executive council was not consulted in this matter.


Political and administrative accountability boils down to the obligation of Public Office Bearers and government officials to act in the best interests of society and when disobedience is exhibited Public Office Bearers and officials should face the consequences of their misconduct. As seemingly uncomplicated as this seems, political accountability in practice is rigorously more challenging to accomplish than accountability of officials under employment law.

The state and all of its departments and official bodies have to follow labour legislation, like all other employers as per Labour Relations Act and the Constitution. These legislations clearly stipulates that every person, irrespective of how wrong/illegal the conduct was, has the right to a fair disciplinary process. This, not unnecessarily so, complicates the matter of accountability. This is also the reason why many disgruntled citizens seem to think that nothing is being done to apprehend the guilty party(s). Or why it seems that no one is being held accountable.

There is an urgent need to review health care legislation(s) to harmonise and align different spheres of government. Centralisation of certain functions and powers of certain pieces of legislation (like MHCA) must revert back to the National Health Minister. This just confirms that both the public and the government realise that the health system is in need of reform towards a more unified solution driven system.

Good policies that are inadequately implemented, or not implemented at all,- coupled with weak or no managerial capacities to oversee implementation lead to poor results. There has been insufficient political oversight and leadership to manage underperformance in the Gauteng Department of Health. There has also been a stubborn tendency to retain incompetent senior staff. As a result, for many years, loyalty—rather than an ability to deliver—has been rewarded among Public Office Bearers and public servants and there has been no climate of accountability. A more efficient public sector requires the political determination to solve the problem of capacity, to deliver public services, and to change the culture of the public service from one that is oriented towards security of employment and reward for loyalty to one focused on accountability and delivery of services to the public, in which competence and performance are both expected and rewarded. Without concerted efforts to change national thinking on accountability, South Africa will become a country that is not just a product of its past, but one that is continually unable to either address the health problems of the present or to face future challenges.

Disclaimer: All articles and letters published on MyNews24 have been independently written by members of News24's community. The views of users published on News24 are therefore their own and do not necessarily represent the views of News24. News24 editors also reserve the right to edit or delete any and all comments received.


Read more from our Users

Submitted by
‘He kissed me on the cheek – whil...

"The bullet went straight through my ribs and broke them." Read more...

0 comments 4988 views
Submitted by
Kagisho Montjane
Like sands through the hour glass...

Growing up in the dusty street of Limpopo , people always get surprised when they find me immersed in the sound of Opera.  Read more...

0 comments 150 views
Submitted by
No Ohno
A reply to : Speaking to our pare...

On 2017-08-17 I read this posting by Ashanti Kunene : Speaking to our parents: how is this freedom? I didn't really want to reply, since I read postings like these daily, but there is just something about this posting that is haunting. Read more...

0 comments 320 views
Submitted by
Congratulations Makhosi Khoza - y...

When the history of South Africa is written in a few years' time, some names are going to stand out: people like Thuli Madonsela, who won the admiration of the world for the quiet, efficient, honest way she fulfilled the role of Public Protector. Read more...

0 comments 680 views
Submitted by
The Self-Destruction of the ANC

So, recently President Jacob Zuma survived another parliamentary vote of no confidence, his eight thus far.  Read more...

0 comments 812 views
Submitted by
Dandelion WCape
Responsibility, reconciliation an...

The loudest voices will be heard. Unfortunately those voices don’t always express well-considered, complex or nuanced thinking. Read more...

0 comments 277 views


E-mail Alerts The latest headlines in your inbox

RSS feeds News delivered really simply.

Mobile News24 on your mobile or PDA

E-mail Newsletters You choose what you want

News24 on Android Get the latest from News24 on your Android device.

SMS Alerts Get breaking news stories via SMS.

TV Get us in your home, on your television.

Interactive Advertising Bureau
© 2017 All rights reserved.
There are new stories on the homepage. Click here to see them.


Create Profile

Creating your profile will enable you to submit photos and stories to get published on News24.

Please provide a username for your profile page:

This username must be unique, cannot be edited and will be used in the URL to your profile page across the entire network.


Location Settings

News24 allows you to edit the display of certain components based on a location. If you wish to personalise the page based on your preferences, please select a location for each component and click "Submit" in order for the changes to take affect.

Facebook Sign-In

Hi News addict,

Join the News24 Community to be involved in breaking the news.

Log in with Facebook to comment and personalise news, weather and listings.