Cabinet has placed the North West health department under the administration of the national government, in the wake of protests ravaging the province.
"Cabinet deliberated on the unstable situation that has unfolded in the North West, which has affected a number of services, particularly health services," Communications Minister Nomvula Mokoyane said on Thursday following Wednesday's Cabinet meeting.
"As a caring government, Cabinet has approved two immediate interventions to restore order and stability in the area."
The two interventions are: placing the provincial health department under administration, and a ministerial task team has been appointed to oversee the department.
"Cabinet approved the invoking of Section 100(1)(b) of the Constitution of the Republic of South Africa of 1996 to address the apparent crisis, particularly in the health sector."
Mokonyane said the main objective of this intervention would be to:
- restore trust and confidence between labour and government;
- assist the province to upgrade its systems and capabilities to a new normality;
- ensure compliance with the legislative and regulatory framework of government;
- stabilise the labour environment, restore sustainable service delivery, ensure the security of staff and improve financial management.
Section 100 of the Constitution reads: "When a province cannot or does not fulfil an executive obligation in terms of the Constitution or legislation, the national executive may intervene by taking any appropriate steps to ensure fulfilment of that obligation."
Strike closes some hospitals, clinics
Mokonyane said Treasury and the national Department of Health would step in on behalf of the government in North West's health department to ensure services were delivered.
The change is with immediate effect.
Some hospitals and clinics in the province closed after staff members downed tools in a strike led by the National Health Education and Allied Workers Union (Nehawu).
There were also reports that some staff had intimidated their colleagues and forced them to abandon patients.
Health services in parts of the country have ground to a halt since the Nehawu strike began two months ago. It led to a go-slow at the main medical depot‚ resulting in a shortage of medication and other supplies.
The situation was exacerbated by the violent protests gripping the province, as residents called for embattled Premier Supra Mahumapelo to go.
Mokonyane also announced that Cabinet had mandated a task team of ministers to visit North West "to establish the facts on the ground".
They are expected to submit a report in the next two weeks. The report back would assist in determining any further interventions that may still be required.
Asked if the task team would speak to Mahumapelo about him stepping down, Mokonyane said that was not the team's brief.
"There are already interactions on the level of the president and the premier," she said, adding that the ANC was also dealing with the matter.
Mokonyane said the team would be engaging the provincial government on governance issues.
The task team, convened by Minister in the Presidency for Planning, Monitoring and Evaluation Nkosazana Dlamini-Zuma, will include Health Minister Aaron Motsoaledi, Finance Minister Nhlanhla Nene, Cooperative Governance and Traditional Affairs Minister Zweli Mkhize, and the Justice, Crime Prevention and Security Cluster of ministers.
"Whilst noting the concerns that were raised by communities, Cabinet strongly condemns the acts of violence, looting and destruction of property that accompanied protests in some areas of the province," Mokonyane said.