DA: Release Frere report

2008-07-21 19:18

Cape Town - The Democratic Alliance has launched an appeal against the Health Department's "refusal" to approve an application for the release of its report into the deaths of 142 babies in the Eastern Cape earlier this year.

"The public, and in particular, the families of the babies who died so tragically and needlessly, have a right to know what caused these children to die and exactly what is being done to prevent any further deaths," DA spokesperson Mike Waters said on Monday.

The DA launched an application in terms of the Promotion of Access to Information Act on June 20 for the report, "which government had previously stated it would release".

However, Health Minister Manto Tshabalala-Msimang and her officials had subsequently stonewalled any attempts to access it, in complete contravention of the principles of open and accountable government, he said.

"Our application has not been responded to; in terms of the law this amounts to a refusal to agree to the application. The minister now has 30 days to respond to our appeal."

The Eastern Cape, and its health department in particular, had been repeatedly in the news over the past few years as a result of a failure to deliver on promises made.

The department was in a state of financial chaos, with nine audit disclaimers in the past ten years.

"Crises such as that involving Frere Hospital last year, and children dying from cholera this year, have highlighted how far the province has to go before it can claim to be delivering an acceptable health service, as well as how far behind many other more successful provinces it has fallen," Waters said.

- SAPA

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