Parliament, Wednesday, 19 August 2020 – Although the Limpopo Province has the second least number of Covid-19 cases after the Northern Cape, the committee still needs to ensure that the provincial government is doing enough to keep the cases from rising and that there is adequate care and treatment for those infected. That was what the Chairperson of the Portfolio Committee on Cooperative Governance and Traditional Affairs (CoGTA), Ms Faith Muthambi, told the provincial delegation that appeared before the committee.

Ms Muthambi said: “The meeting took place amidst hopeful signs of a downward trend in terms of Covid-19-related deaths, hospitalisations and positive cases. This is a promising trend, which we welcome cautiously. As the President warned on Saturday, this is no time to be complacent.”
She told the delegation that the committee appreciates the province’s Covid-19 response efforts as outlined in the presentation. She said some of these have drawn public interest, including the human settlements plan to provide temporary structures to minimise the spread of infection among people living in congested areas.

On the process of recruiting health workers in preparation for a Covid-19 surge in the province, Ms Muthambi said that is also worrying. She said: “In your presentation on the Provincial Health Care Surge Plan, you project that you will need ten Specialists, and to date you have appointed none. You will need 60 medical officers, and so far, you have appointed only 13. Out of the 362 professional nurses you will require, you have managed only 43 appointments.”

She said despite the doubtful state of readiness, the Provincial Government’s Covid-19-related procurement is a massive R668.5 million, of which the Department of Health accounts for R525 million.
“This is also not sitting well with some members of the public, to the extent that some have approached the Provincial Health Portfolio Committee to demand answers on what seems to be extravagant Covid-19 expenditure. We also saw in the weekend newspapers the alleged awarding of PPEs tenders to companies that do not appear in the province’s official database of suppliers,” she added.

The committee wanted answers on a range of questions that included questions on procurement and tenders especially for Covid-19-related material and on regular service delivery matters. The committee highlighted problems that included the provision of temporary houses to the people, shortage of water even to more than 400 schools in the province, and crumbling R25 roads, among other things.
Furthermore, the committee expressed its concern over the lack of appetite from the provincial government to deal with the PPEs scandal that has befallen the province. It told the delegation that it expected the province to emulate the example set by the Gauteng Provincial Government on corruption related to Covid-19.

Ms Muthambi asked if the Provincial Department of Health would consider developing a disaster management plan in line with section 38 of the Disaster Management Act, and if the Provincial Department of Cooperative Governance would develop a robust provincial multi hazards disaster management plan for the entire province to deal proactively with future disasters like the Covid-19 one. Furthermore, she enquired about the existence of the arrangements in that regard.

She asked the delegation about other departments that have been identified to start developing plans and building disaster management capacity and the time frames for that, and about which municipalities included Covid-19 resilience building in their IDPs and provided a budget for that.

The MEC for Cooperative Governance, Mr Basikopo Makamu who led the provincial delegation and who was accompanied by other MECs, told the committee that there is an inclusive provincial command council in the province, which he said is always rising above the challenges that are presented by Covid-19. On the questions on disaster management, the MEC for Health promised to send the epidemics response plan to the committee.


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