A Statement by the National Council of Provinces’ House Chairperson for Committees, Oversight and Igr, Hon Jomo Nyambi, at a Media Briefing to Kickstart the Taking Parliament to the People Report Back Visit to Free State

Ladies and Gentlemen of the media, I greet you all and thank you for joining us for this briefing aimed at outlining the purpose of our visit to the Free State Province this week. You would recall that we visited the Province in 2017.

The purpose of this revisit is therefore to verify and to report back to the communities on the progress made on the issues that were raised both during our pre-visit in Xhariep District Municipality and the Mangaung Metropolitan Municipality. We will go back to the sites which we visited during 2017 both in Xhariep and Mangaung.

The delegation will be divided into eight groups consisting of members of the National Council of Provinces, the Provincial Legislature and Councillors from various municipalities in the Free State Province. Tuesday and Wednesday will be dedicated to site visits in order to satisfy ourselves of the implementation of the undertakings by the Executive since our visit in 2017.

The week will culminate with six public meetings which will be held in various areas including Botshabelo, Bloemfontein, Koffiefontein, Zastron, and Trompsburg where we will be reporting back to the communities on progress made since our visit. The public meetings will start at 4pm. It was in these areas were we had engagements with the masses of our people in 2017. The full programme shall be distributed in due course.

The 2017 Taking Parliament to the People (TPTTP) focused on health facilities and related infrastructure in the Free State Province. The main programme was hosted at the Kaiser Sebothelo Sports Arena, Botshabelo, in the Mangaung Metropolitan Municipality, from 21 to 25 August 2017. The Pre – visit, was held in the Xhariep District Municipality from 15 to 19 May 2017.

TPTTP was conducted under the theme Celebrating 20 Years of the Constitution and the NCOP – Deepening Parliamentary Oversight for Quality Services to our People.

While progress has been made in the implementation of some of our resolutions, other areas remain a concern as it seems that a year later, no finger was lifted to implement our resolutions. Given the purpose of this visit, we may not be able to give a comprehensive report on what has been done.

A range of the undertakings which were made during our visit included the following :

maintenance of access roads to health facilities,

erection of proper fencing,

filling of vacant positions at health facilities,

renovations of facilities, and

provision of proper water and sanitation system for ablution facilities and clean running water for utilisation by patients.

Mangaung Metropolitan Municipality:

In Mangaung, about 103 undertakings were made by various stakeholders. The various delegations had also made a total of 147 recommendations of what needed to be done following those site visits. Although the Department of Health has reported some progress in the implementation of these undertakings, our verification report revealed that little has been done.

Of the 16 undertakings and commitments made by members of the Executive during public hearings, to date only two were implemented by the Economic Development Department (EDD) and COGTA (Department of Cooperative Governance and Traditional Affairs).

According to the report major infrastructure upgrades and refurbishments, including the Free State Psychiatric Hospital have been deferred to 2018//19 financial year. We are informed that negotiations with the municipalities to connect water tanks to mainline water systems are in progress.

The following achievements were reported to date:

Maintenance and repairs completed in facilities that require minor work e.g. Heidedal Community Health Centre (CHC), Harry Gwala, Maletsatsi Mabaso, Pule Sefatsa etc.

Critical equipment has been procured for a number of facilities from the Free State Department of Health (FS DoH) 2017/18 budget and NDOH budget � e.g. One Stop, Heidedal CHC, Botshabelo District Hospital, etc.

Significant progress with establishing or revitalising clinic committees across Metro. Adverts have been placed for appointment of hospital boards.

Bulk filling cabinets were procured for various facilities � e.g. Mangaung University Community Partnership Project (MUCPP), Mmabana, Kagisanong, Heidedal CHC, Bloemspruit, etc.

Progress has been made towards resolving the problems of low staff moral/attitudinal challenges amongst frontline staff and health professionals.

However, a number of issues are still outstanding or are currently in progress:

The problems of staff shortages for mobile clinics have not been resolved � these are to be dealt with during the 2018//19 financial year.

At Universitas Academic Complex only critical repairs have been prioritised due to limited maintenance budget. We are informed that there are delays in the printing of orders for medical consumables due to expired tax clearance certificates on the central database.

Spillage/maintenance of septic tanks has not been resolved at all facilities.

Limited progress has been reported to make facilities disability compliant.

Xhariep District Municipality

During site visits in Xhariep District, about 49 undertakings were made by various stakeholders. The delegations also made a total of 131 recommendations of what needs to be done following those site visits. Like in Mangaung, very limited information was made available with respect to progress.

Health facilities in the Xhariep District experienced critical infrastructure-related challenges, including lack of regular maintenance because of the absence of maintenance teams. Typical service delivery challenges included lack of EMS vehicles and erratic patient transportation for referrals to higher – level health facilities, extended patient waiting times due to vacancies and staff shortages, fluctuating medicine availability.

Despite reports by the FS DoH of interim arrangements to improve the immediate situation with respect to water availability and quality, facilities continue to face serious challenges in this regard. Progress across the District appears uneven, especially with respect to physical infrastructure. Facilities with minor challenges reported some progress, while extensive infrastructure challenges were identified for intervention over the MTEF period.

Achievements in the Xhariep District include the following:

The Alfred Nzula Hospital has been opened and is currently operating.

Maintenance hub has been established and maintenance staff appointed at Alfred Nzula � supporting entire Xhariep District.

The ‘Massification Project” introduced for the refurbishment of PHC facilities is due to commence during 2018//19 financial year for only 5 top priority facilities. Flora Park (asbestos structure) has however not been included in the Massification Project for 2018//19 financial year.

Cleaning material is being procured in bulk and replenished as requested by facilities.

12 vacant professional nurse posts were filled in identified facilities experiencing severe shortages.

All vacancies for operational (clinic) managers were filled � incumbents assumed duty in February 2018.

Twenty mobile clinics have been procured and are to be allocated equitably to five districts. These we are informed are still awaiting delivery from Government Garage.

Province currently in process of procuring fleet of 327 vehicles. Delivery has however not been taken as yet.

The following areas however still require further attention:

Provision of back – up water supply. In this regard, the Infrastructure Chief Directorate has committed to providing boreholes.

There is no long – term solution to the water interruptions and debt owed to Bloem Water by the Xhariep District Municipality as yet.

Provision of back – up electricity. In this regard, the Infrastructure Chief Directorate has committed to making Uninterrupted Power Supply (UPS) to all Primary Health care facilities in the district.

There is a need to streamline Provincial Treasury processes to ensure more responsiveness to urgent procurement process. The delay in the procurement processes and failure to pay for services rendered is negatively affecting appointments and service delivery.

Systems maintenance (incl. electronic and mechanical) at Alfred Nzula Hospital still remain a challenge.

Source: Parliament of the Republic of South Africa