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A delegation of the Ad Hoc Committee to Inquire into the Intervention in the North West Provincial Government in terms of section 100 of the Constitution has cautioned against long-term vacant positions within the North West Provincial Government that have a potential of undermining the efficient functioning of the provincial government.

The Ad Hoc Committee is undertaking an oversight visit this week in the North West province to assess the need for intervention in terms of Section 100 into the province. This process is outlined in Section 100 (2) (b) of the Constitution of the Republic of South Africa.

The National Council of Provinces (NCOP) must then make a decision if the intervention is necessary within 180 days of the receipt of notification of the intention to intervene.

“It is untenable to have various institutions with a majority of acting personnel. We cannot expect departments and hospitals to operate optimally without strategic and operational workforce with the right skill set to ensure efficient service delivery,” said Mr Jomo Nyambi leader of a delegation of the Ad Hoc Committee.

At the Mahikeng/Bophelong Provincial Hospital the delegation was informed that the position of the Chief Executive Officer (CEO) has been vacant since June 2015, translated in months, that is a period of 40 months the hospital (a centre of essential services) has been without a head. Furthermore, there is a vacancy rate of 34.6% for medical doctors at the hospital.

The effects of the high vacancy rate within strategic management positions and the over 34% general vacancy rate at the hospital compounded the ability of the hospital to deliver quality services to its clients. At 34%, the vacancy rate triples the “acceptable” national standards set by the Department of Public Service and Administration of 10%.

The delegation welcomed the assurance by the administrator of the Department of Health of the imminent appointment of the CEO. Also welcomed by the delegation was the allocation from the national office aimed at enabling the filling of clinical staff. The committee committed itself to closely monitoring the fulfilment of the assurances made.

The Provincial Department of Social Development is experiencing the same situation like at the Mahikeng/Bophelong Hospital on personnel. At the Provincial Department of Social Development acting starts at the Head of Department, head of Legal Services to critical middle management level positions. “It feels like we are in some Hollywood of some kind with large number of people acting. It is even worse that they are acting in strategic positions that are intended to drive the strategic direction of the department,” Mr Nyambi lamented.

The delegation called for urgent steps aimed at addressing this challenge to be taken. “We remain of the view that positions, especially in strategic management level, must at all times be filled to enable considered implementation of mandates,” Mr Nyambi concluded.

The delegation will today engage with the Provincial Department of Education to ascertain if the intervention is bearing fruit. The delegation has also set aside time to engage the community to solicit its input on the desirability of the Section 100 intervention.

By Malatswa Molepo
18 October 2018