The Cabinet has invoked Section 100 (1) (b) of the Constitution to place the North West provincial department of health under the administration of the national government from today.
The Cabinet has also appointed a team of ministers to visit the beleaguered North West province to establish facts on the ground and submit a report in two weeks.
Cabinet spokesperson Nomvula Mokonyane, who is also the Minister of Communications told journalists this morning that health services in the province required immediate intervention and hence the move to intervene immediately. She said the problems around health were due to a standoff between management, labour and leadership in that sector and the inefficiencies that saw some clinics and hospitals closing their doors and not only because of the recent protests but prior to the protest actions in Mahikeng.
Mokonyane said both the National Treasury as well as the national Department of Health on behalf of the national government will step in and assume responsibility around matters of management and leadership in the provincial department of health as of today.
The relevant section in the Constitution makes provision for the national government to intervene in a province “when a province cannot or does not fulfil an executive obligation in terms of the Constitution or legislation”.
The multidisciplinary task team which has been established to look at other issues in the North West will be led by Nkosazana Dlamini Zuma Minister in the Presidency responsible for Planning, Monitoring and Evaluation. Its other members include health minister Aaron Motsoaledi, finance’s Nhlanhla Nene, Zweli Mkhize, who is the minister of cooperative governance and traditional affairs as well as the ministers in the justice, crime preventions and security cluster.
The task team will not engage Premier Supra Mahumapelo on whether he should step down or not but will be looking at the state of governance and other issues that are facing the provincial government.
“That is not the brief of government or the team for now,” said Mokonyane about the Cabinet team’s brief. “The team is out to bring perspective on the issues that have been raised. We must also be aware that there are already interactions that have happened at the level of the president and the premier of the North West, as well as the work that has been done through the ruling party and its president, who is also the president of the republic…”
Health workers in the province have been on strike since February 19 as the government wouldn’t concede to a slew of their demands submitted by the National Education, Health and Allied Workers’ Union.
North West’s capital city Mahikeng came to a standstill last week as residents took to the streets, blockading roads and looting shops calling for Mahumapelo’s immediate resignation. President Cyril Ramaphosa even cut short his participation in the Commonwealth Summit, in London to attend to the unrest.