The departments of health, education, and rural development and agrarian reform scored the lowest points on a DA scorecard in the Eastern Cape.
DA leader in the province, Bobby Stevenson, said the report card had been compiled by the party in the Eastern Cape legislature, looking at each department’s performance in 2020. Each department was given a score out of 10.
“There is no doubt that 2020 has been an exceptionally trying year, with extraordinary challenges, most notably those brought about by the coronavirus pandemic.
“It is said that, in the light of adversity, true character is revealed. In the Eastern Cape, this adversity has revealed how fragile our government departments have become, following years of neglect, mismanagement and outright corruption,” he said.
He added that the situation in the province was worsened by the fact that the rot of corruption had permeated into relief efforts, with a culture of self-enrichment at the expense of those who were in dire need prevalent across the province.
Stevenson said that, out of 10, the department of health had scored only two. “The dysfunctional department of health has been thrown into the spotlight due to the Covid-19 pandemic.
“The department continues to teeter on the brink of total financial collapse, with no decisive political leadership and a veritable army of senior officials who cannot manage. It is such a shambles that the minister of health himself has had to visit the province no less than five times to sort out the mess, with fresh deployments on every visit,” he said.
Last year the DA had given the department of health a score of three.
The department of education was also scored two, after last year’s score of three.
“This year the department of education has been plagued with a myriad of debilitating factors. In responding to the Covid-19 pandemic, procurement mismanagement by the department saw PPE [personal protective equipment] purchased at inflated costs. Often supplies were of inferior quality or simply not delivered.
“Allegations of PPE corruption are rife, with the department’s actions placing the health and safety of learners, teachers and school staff at risk,” Stevenson said.
He said infrastructure delivery continued to be plagued by non-payment of contractors, incomplete projects and completed projects standing vacant.
The department, according to Stevenson, had also failed to address previous Auditor-General findings, resulting in repeat findings for the 2019/20 financial year and a sixth consecutive qualified audit opinion.
Due to its continued failure to deal with the challenge of drought that has devastated the province, the department of rural development and agrarian reform was scored 2. This is the same score it received in 2019.
“Agriculture is a key, labour-intensive industry for the province, yet critical drought mitigation resources have either not been made available or have been redirected away from areas where they are needed most,” he said.
The department failed to lobby for an extension of the provincial state of disaster declaration which would have allowed the national government to provide much-needed assistance to the farmers affected by the drought.
Stevenson said the department was also not doing enough to assist small-scale farmers. “Many of the departmental projects remain in a dire financial state and will require bailouts from the government in the very near future. This is a direct result of the inability of the department of rural development and agrarian reform to ensure that competent project leaders are appointed to these projects and their unwillingness to partner with private sector organisations and farmers.”