Gauteng’s provincial health minister, Brian Hlongwa, has splashed out on renovating his boardroom with R1 million from the public purse according to this article in last week’s Financial Mail.
This outrageous extravagance comes at at time when Gauteng’s hospitals are under more strain than ever, with vastly inadequate and ill-maintained infrastructure (such as broken lifts), as well as chronic personnel and resource shortages.
Not that Hlongwa seems to care. As the FM says:
At Chris Hani Baragwanath hospital … it’s not unusual for patients (including the critically ill and pregnant women), doctors and nurses to climb flights of stairs because of broken lifts.
This doesn’t spur Hlongwa into action. “It’s a public works issue,” he tells the FM casually…
Indeed, Hlongwa seems more intent on creating a cushy environment at the provincial health head office, with an alleged R26 million being spent on alterations. And, in less than five years, personnel at the head office has surged to more than double in less than five years.
With the DA accusing Hlongwa spending to much money on consultant, Hlongwa responds with:
“It’s easy for the DA to criticise. We’re using the consultants from the private sector. That’s where the skills reside but they don’t come cheap.”
Of course if there hadn’t been a purge of skills and experience from government they wouldn’t be faced with the need of hiring so many consultants (many of which are actually former employees). And it would help if there were significant improvements to salaries and working conditions — with posts to be filled by the most-skilled applicant and not one chosen purely on a racial beancounting basis — to boost expertise in the public service.
Hlongwa and his ilk epitomise the callous indifference the ruling elite have for society’s most vulnerable. Those dependent on state healthcare have a raw deal thanks to a fatcat cabal far too preoccupied with self-enrichment to give a damn about service delivery.
Dismantling apartheid’s vicious and continuing legacy is simply not the urgent priority it should be.
Swanky renovations, a legion of consultants and gravy train buffets would be somewhat more tolerable if healthcare services (or any constitutionally-mandated government obligation for that matter) were of the highest standard. But they’re not: they’re abysmal.
And, sadly, until the people are put first, it will stay that way.
Read the FM article here.