Editorial | Things fall apart

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The Helen Joseph Hospital in Johannesburg.
The Helen Joseph Hospital in Johannesburg.
Gallo Images/Daily Sun/Lucky Morajane


Will this be the winter of our discontent – doomed by the governing party’s failure to substantively tackle the country’s crumbling infrastructure?

In the midst of a third wave of Covid-19 infections and a lacklustre vaccination programme, bitter cold blankets the country and households are yet again plunged into darkness as the country’s state-owned power utility is unable to maintain generation capacity, its ageing infrastructure collapsing under the weight of corruption and decades of neglect.

In Johannesburg, the country’s biggest city, three important public hospitals are unable to adequately fulfil their health mandates.

READ: Helen Joseph doctor warns ‘patients will die’ as water crisis grows surgery backlog

Neither Rahima Moosa nor Helen Joseph hospitals have running water. Every day, tankers haul life-sustaining supplies of water to the doors of the hospitals and the homes in the surrounding communities whose taps have run dry.

Gift of the Givers stepped in and, in two days, drilled a borehole capable of meeting the hospital’s and the surrounding community’s needs. Government failed to act for the two weeks Rahima Moosa was without water. This is unconscionable and a violation of its constitutional mandate. Yet here we are. Again.

At Charlotte Maxeke Johannesburg Academic Hospital, cancer patients (and others) have not been treated, but rather referred to other facilities, often without patient files, in an exercise in futility.

A police investigation into the cause of the fire at the hospital nearly two months ago is yet to begin. The structural integrity of the building is still to be assessed. In the meantime, patients suffer. The voters suffer. All this while officials trot out platitudes of support and promises that crumble like bad pie crust.

These failures and ineptitude are in the country’s economic heartland. If it cannot be efficiently managed here, then weep for the 63 municipalities across the country that are in financial distress, the 40 more that are mired in financial and service delivery crises, and the 102 that have adopted budget plans they have no real hope of financing.

READ: Helen Joseph Hospital water outage threatens lives of dialysis patients

As the country’s road to any meaningful prosperity falls into potholed disrepair, our constitutional dreams of a better life for all are clouded by the cloying smoke of a Rome that is burning and absent leaders fiddling for their futures with their fingers in the public purse.


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