Frail care closures: Premier must fire SocDev MEC Sihlwayi

The fact that outside pressure had to be applied to ensure Eastern Cape Premier Phumulo Masualle reversed his MEC’s stance on the frail care crisis shows how out of touch the provincial government is with the needs of a caring society.

Premier Masualle must fire Social Development MEC Nancy Sihlwayi as she has demonstrated that she is not only out of step with the needs of the frail care centre patients but is totally at odds with civil society and even her own party.

This incident highlights the important oversight role played by members of the provincial legislature, the media and legal aid. This, combined with the power of public outrage has been victorious in ensuring human rights has triumphed over injustice.

The MEC has blundered twice on this matter.  Firstly, the courts had to come to the rescue of the patients in December to prevent the closure,  despite her being warned of this disastrous course of action.  Secondly, the Premier has now had to overrule her decision to continue on this dangerous march of folly that refused to take the reality of the Gauteng deaths into account.

On Wednesday, she was insistent in closing these centres and sending patients to NGO’S despite this approach resulting in 94 deaths in Gauteng.  This is a blunder of life-threatening proportions which the Premier cannot ignore going forward.

MEC Sihlwayi cannot claim ignorance on this matter as she was warned of the horrific consequences of her department’s intended actions in a speech I made in the legislature in November and subsequent input by myself and Kobus Botha MPL on Tuesday and Wednesday during a legislature sitting of this week.

These two blunders show how out of touch with reality the MEC is. This department that deals with vulnerable members of society needs a caring, human-rights orientated leader that is fit for purpose. — Bobby Stevenson MPL, legislature leader