#CoronavirusSA: DA concerned by Free State provincial government’s absence during pandemic

Issued by Mariette Pittaway MPL – DA Spokesperson on Health in the Free State
18 Jan 2021 in Press Statements

Please find the attached soundbites in English and Afrikaans by Mariette Pittaway MPL, DA Spokesperson on Health in the Free State.

The Democratic Alliance (DA) in the Free State are concerned by the continuous increase of Covid-19 infections in the province and the lacklustre approach to this by the both the Free State Legislature and Government.

South Africa finds itself in the second wave – which is far worse than the first wave – of which can be considered as the world’s most widespread pandemic to date.

The Portfolio of Social Services in the Free State Legislature is responsible for oversight over, and accountability of, the Department of Health. The Department of Health is accountable to elected public representatives on this Portfolio Committee, but the last briefing on the status of the Department of Health in the Free State was October 2020.

On 4 January 2021, I submitted an urgent written request to the Chairperson of this Portfolio, Hon Thabo Meeko, to arrange a meeting between the Department of Health and the Portfolio Committee. I have also communicated the urgency hereof on the Portfolio’s WhatsApp group. To date, I have received no replies, not even acknowledgement or support from the other political parties on the group.

I have also written to the MEC of Health, Hon Montseng Tsiu, with pressing matters, of which one is the status of the field hospitals in the Free State. On 6 November 2020, the MEC stated that the Bloem Show Field Hospital was 75% complete. It therefore came as a shock to the DA when the MEC replied that the Department of Health in the Free State received instructions from the National Director General (DG) of Health to put construction of all field hospitals on hold. A Decommissioning Plan for these hospitals was then signed on 3 September 2020.

Free State health institutions are currently under strain as Covid-19 infections continue to increase. This decision by the National DG is an indictment of government’s inability to manage this pandemic effectively and efficiently. This is more reason why it is important for the Portfolio Committee to meet urgently now, and regularly during this pandemic. It remains the constitutional mandate of the legislature to hold the Department accountable.

The DA has requested our National Spokesperson on Health, Siviwe Gwarube MP, to raise this issue on national level.

The public deserve credible replies to questions and complaints raised with the DA on a daily basis, and such answers should come via the legislature to public representatives.

The DA will continue to pressure the ANC-led government to be accountable to the people it is meant to serve on an equal basis