16 February 2018
The DA views the latest provincial cabinet reshuffle, which sees Lebogang Motlhaping removed as MEC of Health and replaced by Fufe Makatong, as a superficial attempt by the Premier to make it look as if she is tackling the problems at the Health Department.
In reality, however, the reshuffle of politicians at the helm of this department will do more harm than good.
Previously, just when former Health MEC, Mac Jack, appeared to be opening the can of corruption within the Health Department, he was whisked away and replaced by Motlhaping. Now that Motlhaping has just familiarized himself with the significant health challenges of this province, he is also whisked away to another department.
In the meantime, the HOD of Health, Steven Jonkers, who is the real elephant in the room, remains untouchable.
Jonkers was initially placed in the Health Department by Premier Lucas herself, as a so-called “administrator”. This didn’t make sense at all, considering that Jonkers has a terrible track record in good financial management, which is the key skill required of an administrator.
The Premier then went on to promote him to Head of the Department, via a headhunting process. This made even less sense, given that, during his time as HOD of the Department of Transport, Safety and Liaison, Jonkers went ahead with the forbidden lease of the Ocean Echo building despite an instruction to the contrary from then Finance Minister, Pravin Gordhan. It was also Jonkers who advocated for the doomed intra-provincial airline that resulted in millions of rands worth of irregular and unauthorized expenditure. And it was Jonkers who pursued the dubious multi-million rand deal with Wilcovert, for the expenditure of money intended for road safety initiatives on furniture and donkey carts.
The latest provincial cabinet reshuffle strengthens the DA’s belief that Premier Sylvia Lucas is being held to ransom by Jonkers.
As long as Jonkers remains HOD of Health, the department will continue to regress and funds will continue to be channeled away from the core business of health, to questionable security contracts and so on and so forth.
The DA challenges the Premier to deal with Jonkers. Until then, all the cabinet reshuffles and internal departmental reshuffles in the world, will not solve the magnitude of problems faced by the health department.
Dr Isak Fritz, MPL
DA Spokesperson of Health
083 395 2737
Shelley De Witt
082 847 1387