Wednesday, 29 May, 2024
HomeSA Provincial HealthContinued high turnover of provincial health MECs

Continued high turnover of provincial health MECs

Only two of South Africa's provincial health minister have been in their positions for four or more years, with some "eyebrow raising" appointments seemingly made for purely political reasons and writes Spotlight.

Of the nine current MECs, only two have been in their positions for four or more years – Dr Phophi Ramathuba in Limpopo and Dr Nomafrench Mbombo in the Western Cape. According to Spotlight, after the 2019 elections, new MECs for health (provincial ministers) were appointed in four of South Africa’s nine provinces. Almost two years later, three of the four are no longer in their jobs. This continues a trend whereby seeing out a four-year term as MEC for health is the exception rather than the rule.

Spotlight reports that since the day-to-day running of South Africa’s public healthcare system is devolved to provinces, these provincial ministers have an important role to play in ensuring people in South Africa receive quality healthcare. It is thus critically important that only appropriately qualified and committed persons are appointed to these positions. Where MECs are not up to the job or where there are credible charges of corruption against them, they should obviously be removed from these positions.

Spotlight reports that a high turnover of MECs can be a good thing in some contexts, for example, when removing persons facing credible charges of corruption. At least two of the MECs, Sindiswa Gomba in the Eastern Cape and Dr Bandile Masuku in Gauteng, who were removed in the past year, were removed for reasons relating to alleged corruption.

A high turnover can however also be a bad thing – when for example appointments are made, or people are removed, for purely political reasons. Spotlight reports that it is of course hard to prove that specific appointments were made for purely political reasons, but some appointments certainly do raise eyebrows – especially when the person has little or no health background, such as current KwaZulu-Natal Health MEC Nomagugu Simelane-Zulu, or if the person is facing serious corruption allegations, such as with Gomba prior to her appointment in 2019.

Either way, Spotlight reports, in a healthy system you would expect fewer bad or short-term appointments to be made and most MECs to be given at least a full five years in which to get to grips with the healthcare system in their province and to bring about change for the good.

Apart from Ramathuba and Mbombo, all the current MECs for Health were appointed in 2018 or later. Of the nine, one was appointed in 2021, two in 2020, one in 2019, three in 2018, and two in 2015. Spotlight reports that health MECs quite often stay in the position for less than two years.

The Eastern Cape and Northern Cape seem to have particularly high turn-overs, while appointments in KwaZulu-Natal, Northwest, and the Western Cape seem to last longer.


[link url=""]Full Spotlight report (Open access)[/link]



See also MedicalBrief archives:

[link url=""]Eastern Cape Health MEC charged with fraud is fired[/link]


[link url=""]Despite premier’s praise for Health MEC, Public Protector ‘shocked’ by EC hospitals[/link]


[link url=""]SIU has ‘not a shred of evidence’ against Gauteng Health MEC[/link]


[link url=""]DA to lay criminal charges against KZN Health MEC for blocking oversight inspections in the province[/link]


[link url=""]‘Disingenuous’ Limpopo Health MEC releases forcibly quarantined doctors[/link]


[link url=",of%20departments%20and%20district%20heads."]Western Cape Health MEC says NHI will make provinces ‘useless and dysfunctional’[/link]


[link url=""]KZN Health MEC puts her top officials on the public firing line[/link]

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