Health MEC stays, Free State premier says

2014-07-11 05:00
Premier Ace Magashule  (Picture: Leon Sadiki)

Premier Ace Magashule (Picture: Leon Sadiki)

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Johannesburg - Free State Premier Ace Magashule will not heed calls to suspend or fire the province's Health MEC Benny Malakoane, following reports of disarray in his department.

Magashule was satisfied with how the health department was being supported by other provincial government departments, and with its relationship with provincial Treasury to solve its "financial constraints", provincial government spokesperson Mondli Mvambi said on Thursday.

Malakoane tabled his budget vote speech in the legislature on Wednesday.

Mvambi denied reports that a woman had died because an intensive care unit bed was given to an ANC official at the insistence of Malakoane and head of department David Motau.

Last week, the Mail & Guardian reported that other patients waiting to be admitted to the ICU were overlooked to make space for the ANC man.

He was transferred from the Pekholong district hospital, because it did not have an ICU, to the Dihlabeng hospital in Bethlehem.

An unnamed doctor quoted in the article claimed hospital staff at Dihlabeng were told to make space for the ailing man because Malakoane had promised the man's family he would be admitted to ICU.

The man was admitted to the unit, despite the fact that he did not qualify as he was in the last stages of a chronic condition and unlikely to recover.

"There was never an interference by the MEC and the HOD [head of department], who are doctors in their own right," Mvambi said.

Mvambi said the Mail & Guardian's report was intended to dent the health department's image and trying to influence the premier to fire the MEC.

The newspaper's editor-in-chief Chris Roper said they stood by the story.

"If the Free State health department spent less time spinning and more time looking after their patients we'll be better off," he said.

Roper said the paper would carry an update on Friday.

No doctors, water or medicine

Last week the paper reported on a number of issues within the provincial health department. There have been reports of some hospitals having no doctors, medicine, water, electricity, or equipment.

The Treatment Action Campaign has called on Magashule to suspend Malakoane.

Earlier on Thursday, more than 100 community health workers were arrested in Bloemfontein for staging a sit-in at the health department.

The national health department said it had sent a team to the province to assess the situation.

Health ministry spokesman Joe Maila said the main problem in the province was that suppliers were not being paid and so medication was low.

"The supplies of medication in the depots are at a dangerously low level, that is why we had to make sure we come in."

Maila said Health Minister Aaron Motsoaledi had ordered the province to start paying suppliers so orders could be placed.

Maila would not comment on Malakoane and the calls for his suspension, saying Magashule had appointed him and it was unfair to call on the minister to make a decision.

Read more on:    ace magashule  |  aaron motsoaledi  |  bloemfontein  |  media  |  health

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