E/Cape health: Treasury steps in

2010-02-05 10:48

CAPE TOWN – The troubled Eastern Cape health department is to get

help from the National Treasury in sorting out its financial management, the

department said today.

Spokesman Sizwe Kupelo said the Treasury had agreed to send a

technical assistance team, which would arrive in Bhisho next week for a

preliminary meeting.

The department revealed earlier this week that it was R1,8 billion

in the red and said it had suspended all outstanding occupation specific

dispensation payments and payments to creditors.

Kupelo said the decision to send the team followed a visit to

Pretoria last week by the recently-appointed head of the department, Dr Siva


The team would also help the department re-examine its

organisational structure, both administrative and clinical.

Kupelo said the department had noted calls for intervention in

terms of section 100 of the Constitution, which allows national government to

step in when a province cannot do its job.

“Those who are making the calls are grossly exaggerating the

situation,” he said.

“Finances have not gone missing, and the circumstances do not

suggest mismanagement.

“The circumstances [of the cash problem] are explainable. It is as

a result of unfunded mandates, and backlogs that had to be paid that were not

budgeted for.”

Kupelo said the cash shortage did not mean the department had come

to a standstill.

Drugs were still available, and health care was being provided as


Money allocated through conditional grants for programmes such as

HIV and infrastructure was not affected either.

He said the department would “definitely” be in a better position

from the start of the coming financial year.

It had scrapped its tender bid evaluation committees, which would

be replaced by a more transparent system, and was committed to rooting out

maladministration and wrongdoing by staff.

The next few weeks would show that this was not an empty


“We are committed to clean government,” Kupelo said.

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