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Limpopo hospitals run out of food

By Russel Molefe | 2012-01-19 06:13:09.0 | COMMENTS [ 281 ]

"We cannot continue to provide services to the government when we don't have any guarantee we will be paid."

SOME hospitals in Limpopo have been hit by food shortages, with patients now relying on relatives for daily supplies because of the apparent failure by the government to pay service providers.

The hardest hit hospitals, where food has run out, are Jane Furse and St Rita's in Sekhukhune, Bela Bela, Donald Fraser outside Thohoyandou, and Groblersdal.

The crisis surfaced on Tuesday when patients' relatives descended on various hospitals to give them food. Many other hospitals are having difficulty feeding patients their required daily rations.

Hospital staff fear for patients whose relatives are poor and cannot provide food.

A nurse at Donald Fraser Hospital, who did not want to be named, said: "There has to be an urgent intervention, otherwise we might start talking about patients - like the diabetics - dying because they could not respond to medication on empty stomachs".

Maria Sikhwari, whose son was admitted to Donald Fraser three weeks ago, said he complained of hunger on Tuesday.

"I found out from other visitors they had heard rumours that we now have to bring food for the patients. This is very painful and it's going to be an extra burden on me because I also struggle to get enough food at home."

A prominent ANC member attending the party's provincial lekgotla at an upmarket resort in Bela Bela told Sowetan the situation was "bad" at the local hospital.

He said patients were being fed dry rice and he gave some of them apples.

Provincial health spokesman Joe Maila confirmed that food supplies were low but "we don't know what the problem is".

"We are doing all we can to ensure supplies are back to normal. Sometimes people exaggerate the situation and we never called on people to bring food to the patients."

Several providers, who spoke on condition of anonymity for fear of being blacklisted, confirmed they had not been paid.

"We cannot continue to provide services to the government when we don't have any guarantee we will be paid. We understand the situation but we are also business-people and have workers to pay and creditors breathing on our necks," one service provider said.

The Limpopo government's serious cash flow problems led to cabinet placing the health department under national administration.

A week ago Premier Cassel Mathale blamed the national government for the failure to pay for services.

COMMENTS [ 281 ]

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A recent example of this is contained in the article in The Herald, January 11, 2012, under the heading "K*ll the B*er Indeed!"

The article boldly proclaims, "But the question is why Westerners embark on this charade of celebrating Mandela as if they believed in his cause?

"The answer is simple Madiba, after taking the baton from the other nine ANC presidents before him, did not upset the applecart. He was content to have the crown without the crown jewels, and in so doing became the typical good African who does not pose an unusual and extraordinary threat to US foreign policy unlike his counterpart north of the Limpopo".

A similar sentiment was expressed the following day, January 12, 2012, in the same newspaper about the ANC political leadership under the title 'The day after the ANC centennial party'.

The article says, "South Africa's infantile disorder as it takes the young adult's step into the real world of increasingly competitive globalised economy, is that it appears it has chosen to comfort itself with the child's soothing medicine of economic justice. There is no economic justice in world economy".

Given the limited print space I have in this article, I can only sketch out a few considerations that I suggest must be born in mind in any assessment of the South African liberation project. It is my hope that this sketch might help to temper, if not remove, the gross denigration of the liberation credentials of Mandela post his release from prison and the liberation project he so selflessly and heroically championed.

Apartheid was described by the UN as the crime against humanity. It was recognised by the world body as one of the most inhumane forms of oppression and discrimination the modern world has ever seen. It created a society that was not only divided against itself and physically and psychologically torn apart but also sought to create a multitude of black Africans that were less than human. This is the society Mandela inherited in 1994.

In recognition of this reality Mandela made nation-building and reconciliation one of the corner-stones of his five-year term in office. He recognised that for the new nation to move forward on a solid foundation he needed to forge a common nationhood and a shared sense of belonging. It is under Mandela's stewardship that the Truth and Reconciliation Commission (TRC) was constituted.

He knew that it was not possible to reconcile the past with the present, to forge the shared future without exorcising the gory atrocities of the past.

His nation-building and reconciliation crusade helped to neutralise the extreme Afrikaner rightwing that had earlier on crashed and bulldozed the World Trade Centre, the venue for negotiations, with military armoured cars.

His approach had disarmed those extreme rightwing Afrikaners who were exploding bombs and wantonly massacring black people in trains, townships and in the villages. The negotiations had been salvaged from the precipice of possible racial conflagration because he operated as a crafty reconciler.

Mandela is a Sigmund Freud who compelled us to recount the atrocities of the past, both as liberators and as erstwhile oppressors. He knew that the gory atrocities and sins of the past have the stubborn way always to come back to haunt the present. Today, the South African experience of the TRC draws people from many post-conflict countries around the world to come and learn from its historic richness.

The other traumatic reality that Mandela inherited in 1994 was the all-pervasive legacy of Bantu Education. It was introduced by Verwoerd in 1953 to manufacture an army of black people for the unskilled labour market. The ascension into power of the National Party in 1948 had already damaged education of black Africans.

The Act, however, helped to codify this reality into law. It was a coldly calculated mental genocide, a racial cleansing of all faculties of the mind. It systematically and deliberately excluded a number of key subjects like mathematics, engineering, physical sciences, actuarial sciences, architecture and others from the majority of black public learning institutions. Even in those subjects they were allowed to offer there was a categorisation: an 'A' grade reserved for whites and an inferior 'B' grade reserved for blacks.

The consequence of this reality is that even the commitment of the black democratic government that came into office in 1994 to introduce these subjects on a massive scale was severely hampered by the extreme scarcity of the teaching fraternity that could offer these subjects. The limited number that could was itself grossly under-qualified.

So if we consider that to produce an adequately qualified teacher or lecturer to offer these subjects requires on average a good 17 years, it means the inferior system kept on reproducing itself over many years after 1994.

To overhaul the entire Bantu Education system needed drastic measures, yet there can't be any shortcut to that mission. Every educationist will attest that to produce a solid learner, teacher and lecturer requires solid formative primary school years in literacy and numeracy. That is where the entire project to overhaul the system had to begin.

One of the few measures that the democratic government took to ameliorate the situation was to import a great number of foreign teachers and lecturers without driving those that Bantu Education had produced into massive unemployment. That explains why a great number of the teachers and lecturers in these subjects in South Africa even today come from other African countries like Zimbabwe, Nigeria, Ghana, Kenya and beyond.

The other measure was to re-train those that Bantu Education had produced. But if we consider that we need an average of 17 years to produce the best, that in itself, could only be an inadequate stopgap measure.

South Africa is today in its 17th year of political liberation but we are still dealing with the vestiges of that genocide and racial cleansing of the black mind. The desired speedy transformation of the economy suffered the similar fate. In the early years of the democratic order it became extremely difficult to find enough skilled and qualified South African black people to take over the commanding levers of the machinery of the South African sophisticated economy.

There was an extremely limited number of chartered accountants, engineers, etc. because it needs solid mathematics and physical sciences to produce them. It partly explains why even some of the most successful black empowerment companies were for years chaired by South African black owners but employed white people as CEOs or CFOs.

One of the initiatives the government took was to deliberately second black individuals to understudy white executive personnel mainly in state institutions and to compel the corporate sector to comply with empowerment scorecards even at executive levels.

That partly explains why Mandela could not really "k*ll the Bo*r indeed" in his five years in office.
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The additional measure the government took was to put in place immigration laws that encourage the importation of scarce skills. It explains why government has recruited so many Cuban medical doctors into rural hospitals. There is hardly any higher academic institution of note in South Africa that does not employ at least one Nigerian academic. There is hardly any big corporate finance institution that does not employ at least one Zimbabwean financial literate. A black Zimbabwean fund manager in South Africa quizzed me the other day; "A lot of us indigenous Zimbabweans have become black African Jews building other nation's economies in the Diaspora".

The liberation struggle led by the ANC was primarily premised on political mass mobilisation of the people to force the regime to accede to a national democratic convention to decide on the nature of the South African society we desire. The element of armed struggle, important as it was, was largely limited to armed propaganda meant to bolster the mass political struggle.

2012-01-19 11:51:10.0 | 0 replies

pheeeewwww.our people are dying,shame,no comment on blamings

2012-01-19 11:32:16.0 | 0 replies


my point being that when u develop u would have a section of the population that will depend on state handouts for survival. In USA and Europe it was the same thing, its not unusual for people to ask the state for food.

2012-01-19 11:29:59.0 | 0 replies

@TCT it goes without saying that the DA is at the top of the game and they are the ONLY party in SA standing btwn complete looting the country and the anc, were it not for them taking anc president for its bad decisions (appointments) to court wld be stuck in the rut, so for their effort they deserve credit, that is not to say they are perfect, but in my books they are the better devil compared to the anc, the anc had 18yrs to prove its self instead they get worse instead of improving.

wrt building houses of the poor, the anc builds (theoretically) millions of houses when in real life we pay for 1 RDP worth 16mil and this is ONLY being discovered after 9yrs? does this sound financially astute to build 1 RDP house for 16mil SAnR?

2012-01-19 11:29:37.0 | 0 replies

@ somaartakeit.

I can't agree with you more. The solution lies not only with the government having to come down hard on corruption and mismanagement but the public has a duty as well to correct ourselves where we don't toe the line, get back the pride in our work, face our responsibilities and stop being selfish by only looking out for our own families but to work together for the good of all people.

It is a mind change or perception that is necessary. Even on ground level people are abusing the system by enriching themselves at the expense of others. We must stop being selfish. Before anyone asks me about this, let me catagorically state that I "practice what I preach" by way of speech. I am not simply critisizing without doing anything myself.

2012-01-19 11:27:03.0 | 0 replies

you are not called names for no reson ppl cant criticize the work but they go personally interfering with things happening in the closed doors,having sex is not a nation concern etc..wer is BOTHO/UBUNTU?

2012-01-19 11:26:47.0 | 0 replies

But then again, South Africans are spoilt, always waiting for the govt to spoon feed them
do u understand the word "developing country."
your point being?

2012-01-19 11:25:30.0 | 0 replies

T.C.T - The ANC doesnt treat the party and the government seperate. That is the problem

ANC knows wer its limits end and GOVERNMENT knows its limit too but media and other political parties seems not to know there job and there mandates too

which political parties do you know that can deliver better services than ANC?which parties can build millions of houses for the poor?we are not shaken by mic.hy mouse parties which are confused and desparate and using black ppl color to mobilise other blacks

2012-01-19 11:24:01.0 | 0 replies

you chased mbeki away now u expect lowly informed president to act on the matter aaaaag poor citizens

2012-01-19 11:23:35.0 | 0 replies

Limpopo or Eastern Cape,
watch the space
Eastern Cape, i bet all of then except Western Cape. Western Cape centralised suppliers database is managed by an external company, so that the verification of suppliers won't be compromised.
aah there's something positive to learnt from the province run by the madam, lol

2012-01-19 11:21:49.0 | 0 replies

But then again, South Africans are spoilt, always waiting for the govt to spoon feed them
do u understand the word "developing country."

2012-01-19 11:21:21.0 | 0 replies