The Guard

The Truth On Board

Premier decries poor management at health facilities

By Staff Reporter

BLOEMFONTEIN – “It’s an issue of management because as management you just have to apply your mind to say that even if there’s a shortage of money the government has, it’s about how we utilize those resources.”

This was stated by Premier MaQueen Letsoha-Mathae, when she undertook an impromptu tour of Pelonomi Tertiary Hospital in Bloemfontein this week.
Lebotsa-Mathae criticized management for challenges faced by provincial health facilities.
She was accompanied by MECs as she paid unannounced visits to Pelonomi and National District Hospital in Bloemfontein.
She issued a stern warning to her executive against disappointing the more than 2.9 million residents of the province.

“You dare not disappoint again because we lost votes in recent elections because of laziness of our deployees in our facilities. We are given a responsibility because we are earning, we are working. We are workers as well. We are public representatives, but we really need to work and serve our people.

“The seventh administration will endeavour to get rid of corruption and deal decisively with those who seek to halt service delivery.
“This administration shall be about fighting corruption, building an ethical state and providing quality services to our people. We make no apologies that our government will deal decisively with individuals who will stand in the way of effective and efficient service delivery. The team accompanying me today reflects our commitment to addressing key priorities of our government, enhancing public service and ensuring a sustainable future for all our people,” Letsoha-Mathae.

During the visits, the premier received numerous complaints from patients and staff resources, it’s
regarding severe staff shortages, malfunctioning toilets, and lack of essential items such as blankets.
Mathae expressed her frustration at the hospital management, criticizing their failure to effectively utilize government resources to address their issues.
She immediately instructed newly appointed Health MEC, Monyatso Mahlatsi, to tackle these problems urgently.

“Management is the key issue here, and the newly elected MEC is with me today. He must address these concerns immediately. The MEC for Public Works must also get involved. We have trained artisans and plumbers who can assist us.
“Hence I’m saying it’s an issue of management because as management you just have to apply your mind to say that even if there’s a shortage of money the government has resources, it’s about how we utilize those resources. We lack management, that’s the simplest way of dealing with this matter.”

Mahlatsi expressed his dissatisfaction with the conditions he witnessed during the visit. He promised to urgently address the ongoing issues at the health facilities, working closely with his management team, including the head of department and the chief executive officer.

He said his predecessor, Mathabo Leeto, who is now the MEC for Social Development, has been trying to address these same issues during her visits at the health facility because National District Hospital has made headlines for its dire conditions.
In 2019, doctors at the hospital raised alarms about the lack of medical supplies and outdated equipment in the theatre rooms. Despite repeated concerns, conditions at public health facilities across the province have seen little improvement, leaving patients to suffer the consequences; one of the biggest challenges is to find a solution for the shortage of nursing staff at the hospitals.

A week after being sworn-in and officially inaugurated as premier of the embattled Free State province, Letsoha-Mathae announced members of her executive, which she hopes will deal with corruption and prioritize service delivery.    
Some of her MEC’s however are no strangers, particularly Jabu Mbalula, who is the elder brother of ANC secretary-general Fikile Mbalula. In 2023, Jabu was appointed the party’s provincial spokesperson. Sixteen months after being elected as spin doctor, Jabu has now been appointed MEC for Community Safety, Roads and Transport, a position previously occupied by the incumbent premier Letsoha-Mathae.

FS Premier MaQueen Letsoha-Mathae interacting with patients and staff at National hospital in Bloemfontein.

Another twist saw the former Free State legislature speaker, Ntombizanele Sifuba, who had been re-elected into the position, demoted to now serve as the MEC for Sports, Arts, Culture and Recreation. Surprisingly, chairperson Mxolisi Dukwana, who previously served as the premier did not make the cut, which was a second recent blow for him. The first blow was when he failed to impress the ANC’s top officials led by President Cyril Ramaphosa during an interview to be the party’s premier candidate.

For the MEC for Finance, Tourism and Economic Development portfolio, the premier appointed Moses “Toto” Makume, who is also the ANC’s deputy chairperson in the province. The members of the executive for the seventh administration were announced by Letsoha-Mathae last week at OR Tambo House, Bloemfontein and the new executive was sworn in at OR Tambo House earlier on Sunday.

For the Agriculture, Rural Development and Environmental Affairs portfolio, Elizabeth Rockman was appointed as the MEC. The department is embroiled in controversy linked to the multimillion-rand Vrede Dairy Project. Several arrests have been made in connection with the project, including former agriculture MEC and national mining minister Mosebenzi Zwane; former department heads, Peter Thabethe and Limakatso Moorosi; and former CFO Seipati Dhlamini. Between them, they are facing charges of fraud, theft, corruption, money laundering and contravention of the Public Finance Management Act.