Scopa and state spat unhealthy

THE animosity between the Limpopo Standing Committee on Public Accounts and the provincial department of health and social development is festering.

This comes after Scopa accused the department of failing to provide answers on the missing ambulances.

About 80 ambulances have been reported missing from the department and have not been accounted for.

Scopa subsequently hauled the department before a hearing in Polokwane to explain the disappearance of the vehicles.

Scopa was left with no option but to send the department packing after it failed to provide the answers.

To make matters worse, the department brought many officials who were in acting capacities.

Scopa chairperson Derrick Ngobeni told MEC Merriam Segabutla that the department was full of "actors" and that it was "extremely ill".

The department has deployed about three general managers to the regions, thereby putting people on an acting basis in their positions.

Five minutes was enough for Ngobeni to tell the department to go and get its house in order.

"As Scopa we are worried that this department is extremely ill and is in the Intensive Care Unit, needing some major operations," said Ngobeni.

He said major operations needed to be undertaken in order for the department to survive.

"If the heart needs to be removed and there's a need for a transplant so be it."

He also ordered the department to "foot the bill" for the lunch, recording systems and any other things related to the hearing. The menu for lunch, which cost R4000 for 50 people, comprised pap, rice, beef, chicken, soft drinks and salads.

"It has been a fruitless expenditure to have this hearing because you failed to provide any reasonable answers," he said.

Ngobeni's outbursts followed acting departmental head Nelson Tshikovhi's failure to answer how many ambulances had disappeared.

He had initially conceded that ambulances and other departmental vehicles had been "hijacked while parked".

This did not go down well with Ngobeni, who asked how the cars could be "hijacked while parked".

Tshikovhi said six vehicles had been reported stolen every year for the past five years. But he would not give the exact number of the ambulances that had been reported stolen.

"We are worried that the department spends more than R200million a month for security while vehicles and ambulances just disappear under the noses of security guards," he said.

Scopa urged the Auditor-General to conduct investigations before it decide on the future of the department.