The National Education‚ Health and Allied Workers’ Union (Nehawu) has threatened to shut down the entire country if it does not get a favourable response to its demands in North West. eNCA reports that the union marched to the province’s legislature last Wednesday, demanding better management of the health department and an end to corruption, including the resignation of the embattled premier, Supra Mahumapelo.
Health workers in the province have downed tools for the third week.
Minister of Health Aaron Motsoaledi received the memorandum of demands from the union. He said he was sent by the inter-ministerial committee, set up by the presidency to take charge of the province following violent protests calling for the premier to resign.
The allegations of corruption and maladministration in the North West government will be investigated by law enforcement agencies. IoL reports that this is according to Minister in Presidency Nkosazana Dlamini-Zuma who says the Inter-Ministerial Task Team (IMTT) still has to conduct investigations into North West government departments where corruption has been reported.
“In areas where glaring contraventions of the Public Finance Management Act (PFMA) are found, the IMTT is referring the matters to the law enforcement agencies for consideration of criminal prosecutions,” said Dlamini-Zuma.
The report says the task team was appointed in April following widespread protests in province. Protesting residents alleged that a number of the province’s departments were failing to provide service delivery due to corruption. They called for Mahumapelo to step down or be recalled.
Nehawu members have been on strike for over a month demanding that the health department address the issues of staff shortages at the province’s hospitals. The South African National Defence Force had to send in their health services to assist the province’s hospital staff in providing health care services.
Dlamini Zuma said in the report that the IMTT along with acting North West Premier Wendy Nelson, met with municipalities in the province to access the situation. Further meetings with other parties in province were also on the cards. She said the team was working hard to ensure that the province receives the assistance needed and that it is restored to normality.
“National government is putting together a capable team of specialist officials who will work closely with the North West executive to ensure better governance systems and improved services for the people of the province,” she is quoted in the report as saying.
“It is regrettable that the people of the North West Province allowed the criminal element to embed itself in their grievance processes through acts of looting and destruction of property.”
Decomposing bodies. Electricity blackouts. Water shortages. The Times reports that according to the Democratic Nursing Organisation of South Africa (Denosa) in North West, these are among the problems nurses are encountering in the North West.
Denosa has described what it calls the crippling effects of maladministration in the North West: “The situation has reached a point of no return for nurses who have been abused‚ exploited‚ neglected and deserted. The poor working conditions have seriously rendered the profession sub- standard service due to system failures aggravated by the corrupt government officials in the province.”
It asserts that: patients are exposed to non-conducive environment whereby beds are shared because of congestion; in terms of nutrition‚ patients are eating bread and mincemeat; there is no water in some of the sub districts‚ which affects maternity patients severely; no medication supplies for chronic patients; and non-functionality of backup generators when electricity goes off‚ which exposes patients’ lives to danger.
And that’s not even the worst of it‚ the nurses say. “Nurses are salvaging the situation by using their cell-phones and torches to deliver babies in some of the provincial hospitals in the province‚” according to Denosa. “The linen crisis is so prevalent that patients are utilising their own linen and blankets from home and infection control measures are not observed.
“Non-functionality of mortuary fridges whereby deceased families are not receiving proper care. Smelling mortuaries with bodies of more than 150 days in some district hospitals has become the norm while mortuary attendants and nurses are supposed to wheel the deceased patients to such areas. This is total cruelty to humankind.
“Government’s patients’ transports are so old and not roadworthy that nurses are supposed to escort patients in those transport including ambulances that are not fully equipped.”
Denosa said in the report that nurses had had enough and were no longer willing to tolerate this treatment. “They are human beings before they are nurses. They deserve better… Denosa is currently exploring all legal options to put a stop to this situation.”
The report says the North West Health Department has seen unprecedented protests at its hospitals in recent weeks‚ with protesting health-workers even blocking doctors from entering the premises.