Psychiatric medicine shortages disrupt patients in Gauteng

Psychiatric patients in Gauteng have suffered over the past year from shortages of nine drugs due mostly to manufacturing constraints and tender issues.

This is revealed by Gauteng Health MEC Bandile Masuku in a written reply to my questions in the Gauteng Legislature.

The medicines in short supply include three anti-depressants, three anti-psychotics, and two epilepsy treatments.

According to Masuku, although the items were out of stock “the suppliers were delivering limited quantities which were evenly distributed to the facilities. Patients were given limited quantities so that they do not go home without medication. Where there are alternatives patients were given the alternative medication.”

Masuku claims that the impact on treatment of patients was “minimal”. I disagree as I have had many complaints from psychiatric patients that they had adverse reactions from the switching of medicines and sometimes ran out of medicines for a period of time.

It is unfortunate that Gauteng is dependent on national health tenders for psychiatric drugs as they are often badly handled.

The Gauteng Health Department needs to be more nimble in finding alternative suppliers to ensure that there is always a full range of drugs for vulnerable psychiatric patients.

Infrastructure-led economic growth promised by Gauteng Government is a cruel lie

The biggest shock in the Gauteng budget presented last Thursday is the decision to drastically cut the expected allocation to infrastructure development.

This flies in the face of Premier Makhura’s numerous promises of infrastructure-led economic growth promised in his recent State of the Province address.

The Department of Health, which requires R6 billion just to become occupational health and safety compliant, has been allocated an additional R18 million more than last year. No, you are not reading this number incorrectly. R18 million.

Learners in Gauteng will be under increased risk of crumbling infrastructure as the overall budget for maintenance and repairs has been reduced by R159 million and the budget for educational infrastructure has been reduced by R163 million.

Human Settlements has been allocated R420 million less than last year and Infrastructure Development R159 million less.

The chickens have come home to roost. Years of poor policy choices, mismanagement and corruption have brought us to this point. There is simply not enough money to go around.

So, Premier Makhura’s numerous promises of huge infrastructure investments over the next 10 years is likely to be pie in the sky. His party has bankrupted us.

MEC Maile misleads the public yet again

The Democratic Alliance (DA) has noted the content of the press statement by Gauteng Cooperative Governance and Traditional Affairs (COGTA) MEC Lebogang Maile, as well as the social media postings by the Gauteng Provincial Government on Sunday 8 March 2020 that he has submitted a letter to the City of Tshwane Speaker, Katlego Mathebe, to inform her of the dissolution of council and the implementation of Section 139.

The DA has confirmed that neither Mathebe, nor any of her officials within her private office have received such communication from Maile.

The supposed delivery dates of such notices, as mentioned in the various press releases is misleading and untrue.

The MEC is not following due process in terms of the constitution and continues to mislead the public while creating confusion within the administration.

The DA and its councillors will continue to serve the public as if it is business as usual and will approach the officials to continue to deliver services.

Maile is defying the democratic will of the people.

The conditions to allow him to intervene do not exist in Tshwane.

He must not be allowed to abuse his powers.

After next year’s local government elections there are likely to be dozens of Councils governed in minority situations like Tshwane.

If Maile’s actions set a precedent then no Council is safe from any of the 8 provinces currently governed by the ANC.

But if he still wishes to proceed with an illegal process, we will meet him in court and will ask that he be ordered to personally pay the costs when he loses.

GFC has no system in place to track government officials doing business with the entity

The Democratic Alliance (DA) is shocked to learn that the Gauteng Film Commission (GFC) has no system in place to track whether there are officials that are doing business with the entity.

This was revealed by the MEC for Sports, Arts, Culture and Recreation (SACR), Mbali Hlophe in a written reply to the DA questions tabled in the Gauteng Provincial Legislature (GPL).

This shows that tax-payer’s money can easily be syphoned by officials because there is no system in place to monitor which officials are doing business with government entities.

It is important for all government departments and entities to have a monitoring system in place as this will ensure that corruption and fraud does not take place.

Currently we are seeing many officials in various sectors of government being implicated in corruption and caught with their hands in the cookie jar. The State Capture Commission of Inquiry has revealed many examples of how our state coffers are being looted.

The DA calls on MEC Hlophe to ensure that a monitoring system is put in place as a matter of urgency.

Furthermore, the DA will table a motion in the GPL calling for a lifestyle audit to be conducted on all government officials.

ANC on mission to loot Joburg coffers by reversing insourcing of workers

The Democratic Alliance (DA) in Gauteng is not surprised by the ANC-led City of Joburg administration’s intention to reverse the insourcing of the security guards and cleaners.

This action by the ANC-led Joburg administration is clearly an effort to reverse the gains that were achieved by the DA-led coalition government.

The DA-led multiparty administration insourced over 2000 security guards and cleaners, so as to ensure their job security as well as their access to medical aid and pensions.

This was also a step in the right direction to eradicate the use of labour brokers and end the exploitation of workers.

In addition, the security guards and cleaners that were insourced are earning a market related salary.

The ANC’s claim that the process was not done legally and that more people were employed than was initially on the books is not true.

Furthermore, this action by the ANC administration once again highlights that they care little about the needs of those providing services to the municipality and are only interested in lining the pockets of cadres.

It has also become a norm where the ANC governs that security and cleaning tenders are awarded to card carrying members of the ANC who in return flout labour laws and do not even pay the minimum wage.

The DA will continue to put pressure on the ANC to not reverse this insourcing. Failure to do this will indicate that the ANC is only focused on their own interests.

Gauteng Health owes R92 million penalty interest for late payments

The Gauteng Health Department paid R5 642 301 last year for interest on late payments and owes a further R91.8 million for penalty interest.

This is revealed by Gauteng Health MEC Bandile Masuku in a written reply to my questions in the Gauteng Legislature.

According to Masuku, the high amounts paid and owing for interest are due to “court orders, late payment of interest-bearing accounts and infrastructure related.”

The breakdown of what is owed in penalty interest is as follows:

  • Telkom V Block – R88.7 million
  • Telkom voice account – R1.4 million
  • Novo – R513 000
  • Interest on litigation – R1.2 million

I am concerned that so much is owed to the disputed Telkom V Block contract which has been mired in allegations of corruption that need to be resolved soon. It is also shameful that R1.2 million is owed for interest on overdue court-ordered payments.

With regard to late payments to the Gauteng Department of Infrastructure Development, Masuku blames “poor project management processes and coordination between the two Departments. This has since been addressed with the appointment of a dedicated Head of Infrastructure in the Gauteng Department of Health.”

This Department will never get a clean audit if penalty amounts continue to be paid for overdue accounts as these are classified as fruitless and wasteful expenditure.

Better financial discipline is needed to ensure that all accounts are paid in time.

MEC’s high-handed approach in Tshwane shows disregard for the law

The Democratic Alliance (DA) notes that Gauteng COGTA MEC, Lebogang Maile has called an urgent meeting with EXCO members, Group Heads and Divisional Heads at the City of Tshwane tomorrow.

The meeting has been called to discuss the way forward after Premier David Makhura and MEC Maile announced that the municipality has been placed under administration.

The DA would like to put on record that this municipality is not under administration as we have not yet received a letter stating that this decision has been taken.

MEC Maile’s meetings with staff are therefore premature, and he is trying to create the impression that the City is already under administration, when in fact it is not.

In fact, the outcomes of such meetings will be null and void as they pertain to a process which has not been legally initiated.

Such actions are typical of MEC Maile’s high-handed and arrogant approach which shows a flagrant disregard for both the law and the constitution.

MEC Maile has shown in the past how he jumps the gun, and is forced to retract his pronouncements, embarrassing both himself, and his department.

Regardless of the MEC’s posturing, the DA Councillors in Tshwane will continue serving the community without fear or favour until such time that a legal process has been followed. We will not allow this to deter us from ensuring that service delivery continues in Tshwane.

As far as the DA, and the law, is concerned, it is business as usual in this Metro.

Gauteng Education, Health and Social Development Departments receive biggest share of the budget

The Democratic Alliance (DA) in Gauteng notes today’s budget speech by the MEC for Finance, Nomantu Nkomo Ralehoko in the Gauteng Provincial Legislature.

According to the MEC, 80% of the 2020/2021 budget will be spent on Education, Health and Social Development.

While these departments are receiving the biggest share of the budget there needs to be closer monitoring of the services that they provide. This will ensure that residents are given quality goods and services.

Gauteng is experiencing high rates of in-migration which impacts on service delivery in the province. According to the MEC, it is for this reason that the Infrastructure budget will be increased by 9% to R36.7 billion.

However, this means nothing if these infrastructure projects are not monitored properly. In most cases these projects are plagued by shoddy workmanship, the budget is not adhered to and the projects are not completed on time.

Gauteng is the economic heart beat of the economy and needs to lead from the front. This means that money spent by government must ensure good returns on investment.

Furthermore, MEC Nkomo Ralehoko has also committed to ensuring the following:

  • Lifestyle audits for all officials
  • Implementation of consequence management
  • 30% of the goods and services budget will be spent on township businesses
  • Payment of suppliers within 30 days

The DA will be closely monitoring how this budget is being implemented and spent by all government departments.

Tshwane: how the ANC behaves when they lose elections

The Democratic Alliance (DA) notes today’s press conference held by Premier David Makhura. The ANC has taken illegal actions which will be challenged.

The simple truth is that when the ANC fails to win an election, it resorts to undemocratic and non-procedural means to get back power; what has happened in Tshwane demonstrates this.

There has been a decline in ANC support over several elections and this trend has continued.

Therefore, after the 2021 Local Government Elections, there will be scores of municipalities around the country that will find themselves in a minority situation as has been the case in Tshwane.

We cannot allow the ANC to use untruths, half-truths and outright subversion to undo democratic decisions. Because if we fail now, the consequences for municipalities around the country after the 2021 Local Government Elections will be dire.

In his media conference today, the Premier misled the public.

We will hold a press conference to unpack every untruth and half-truth.

MEC Maile has ignored the reply by Council to his letter in terms of Section 139 of the Constitution; here are four short examples:

  • There was no engagement between the Provincial Government and the City of Tshwane, except for the notification where the Provincial Government expressed the intent to place the City under administration.
  • Service delivery concerns:

– Water in regions 5 and 7 was capped by Rand Water because the Vaal Dam was running blow acceptable capacity levels;

– A contract has been signed with ERWAT to address the water issues in Hammanskraal;

– The water treatment plan in Region 7 is back to its normal operations since Saturday, 14th December 2019;

– The letter further indicated that Senior Managers in the Service Delivery Cluster for both Roads and Transport and Human Settlements were suspended and this had an impact on service delivery. The truth is that these managers have been reinstated and are back at work; and

– The deterioration of the Wonderboom airport has been resolved.

  • The letter stated that the pollution of the Hartbeespoort Dam catchment area is attributed to sewer spillages from the urban and industrial zones of the Gauteng Province and does not indicate what Executive obligation the City of Tshwane is unable or unwilling to fulfil. To date, no further explanation has been issued by the Provincial Government as to what intervention is expected.
  • The City has embarked on standard and annual processes as determined by National Treasury and Section 19 of the 2019 Division of Revenue Act and Section 38 of the MFMA to comply with the regulations with regards to underspending by the City of Tshwane and the extension of grants. This is a standard procedure across all municipalities.

It is clear that the City of Tshwane had the full intention to work with the Provincial Government but was declined the opportunity for political gain.

We will continue to air these truths as we get legal advice on our course of action.

New radiation machines assist cancer care at Joburg hospital but medicine shortages cause delays

Progress is being made with new radiation machines to reduce the backlog of cancer treatment at the Charlotte Maxeke Johannesburg Hospital, but medicine shortages are worsening survival chances.

This is revealed in a written reply by Gauteng Health MEC Bandile Masuku to my questions in the Gauteng Legislature.

According to Masuku, there have been shortages of ten chemotherapy drugs as well as morphine. The effect has been “patients not getting their medicines on time which compromises treatment outcome and relapse of the cancers. “In the case of insufficient morphine tablets, “the treatment of the patient may not provide sufficient pain relief. “

A total of 713 cancer patients are waiting for radiation treatment, broken down as follows:

  • Prostate – 450
  • Gynaecology – 125
  • Breast – 113
  • Head and neck – 25

I am particularly concerned by the large number of prostate cancer patients who need radiation treatment. This should improve as two new Linear Accelerators were commissioned late last year, and two more Accelerators should be in operation in June this year at a total purchase cost of R208 million.

The backlogs have grown because of radiation machinery breakdowns, as well as broken Cobalt source and simulator machines which Masuku says will be replaced in the 2020/21 financial year.

Masuku says that the breakdowns have resulted in “increased complaints from patients, longer waiting times and decreased

staff morale.”

It is regrettable that machine breakdowns and medicine shortages have worsened the survival chances of many cancer patients at the hospital. It should not be necessary for this major hospital to send 10 cervical cancer patients a week to Klerksdorp Hospital in order to assist with the backlog.

I hope that the new machines and a full-line medicine supply can cut the backlog and waiting time for these vulnerable patients whose lives are in the balance.