Gauteng department of health spokesperson Prince Hamnca has denied allegations the provincial department will run out of operational budget by the end of this year.
If this does happen, it will force the provincial government to seek Treasury to supplement the departmental basic allocation with three more months left in the financial year.
Jack Bloom, the DA shadow MEC of health in the province, earlier this week told the media the allocated budget of R42 billion would not be sufficient for operational needs, as only 73% was available for use.
Bloom told The Citizen that “R11 billion of the R40.2 billion budget is not available in this budgetary year for the delivery of health services” due to “accruals of R4.2 billion” that will have to be settled.
He said the department also has “contractual commitments of R3 billion” and “possible payments of R3.8 billion for medical negligence this year”.
“We don’t know how Mr Bloom has arrived to this conclusion. All we know is that we get monthly allocations from provincial treasury, which cover our monthly expenses,” Hamnca said.
Speaking in the legislature yesterday, Premier David Makhura hinted he was personally worried about the matter, describing the Gauteng health administration as “chaotic” and in need of a “big shakeup”.
Opposition parties have laid the blame squarely on former MEC Brian Hlongwa, who they accuse of plunging the department into a financial crisis. Hlongwa was appointed when Gwen Ramokgopa, the current MEC, was elected as the executive mayor of Tshwane.
Fresh from the Life Esidimeni scandal that saw former MEC and ANC provincial bigwig Qedani Mahlangu sacked, the department has in recent times been dealing with an embarrassing situation where the roof at Charlotte Maxeke Academic Hospital in Johannesburg CBD collapsed.
The current strike by mortuary staff, who are refusing to carry out duties they are not trained and remunerated for, has brought back the department into the media spotlight.
Makhura apportioned the blame to administrators, saying: “The clinicians are doing well, but it is official at provincial level who are failing the system. Those in charge of the institutions of health themselves need a big shakeup.”
Current MEC Dr Gwen Ramokgopa is herself not new to the department – after initially serving as a director in the department she served as an MEC between 1999 and 2006 before moving to head the Tshwane metro council.
She became a deputy minister of health during Zuma’s first cabinet before a short recess from public life. In 2015, she was elected as ANC provincial deputy secretary-general. The Citizen sent supplementary questions to Hamnca, and we are awaiting his response.