MEC of Health gets a new car for Christmas

The MEC of Health has been gifted a brand-new car of just under a million rand as part of the Eastern Cape Adjustment Budget passed in the Legislature today [SUBS: 6 December 2018].

Part of the adjustments for the Department of Health includes R901,000 for a new vehicle for the MEC, whereas we can only afford to spend R325,000 on wheelchairs, hearing aids, and orthotics.

SEE Extract from Provincial Treasury Adjustment Estimates Report

This lavish expenditure highlights how out of touch the collapsing Health Department is with reality. We condemn it in the strongest terms.

Also, once a new MEC comes in after an election, that MEC is entitled to a new vehicle, so spending R901 000 now is a total waste of money and we cannot support it.

The question that needs to be asked is ‘what has happened to the fiscal consolidation strategy of the Minister of Finance?’ Buying a vehicle at this price is giving the middle finger to fiscal austerity.

There is no doubt that this province has now become extremely cash strapped. The departments requested an additional R4,076 billion in the adjustment budget, but only received R675 million. Health requested R1,8 billion, and received R325,9 million, Education requested R1,247 billion and received R126 million.

When it comes to belt tightening, the provincial government’s belt is still too loose. In the last financial year this province spent at least R1,4 billion on non-core business, including catering R101,5 million, consultants R565 million, and transport and accommodation R792 million. One would have expected the MEC to announce bigger cuts than the R45 million he mentioned.

In many countries overseas, they have what is called ‘care taker policies’, that come into play six months before an election. This means no new vehicles, buildings, rentals, contracts, and political advertising.

No one begrudges the MEC for Health having a safe and decent vehicle to ride around in, but given the cash crisis around Health, the MEC should be setting an example.

Corruption in the Eastern Cape is undermining service delivery. The Auditor General has indicated that irregular expenditure, that the province still needs to deal with, is up to R5,26 billion. This could grow by a further R1,73 billion which is currently under investigation.

A DA government will establish an independent, effective and highly specialized, prosecution-driven anti-corruption unit to combat corruption. The new Independent Anti-Corruption Organisation will be based on the successful Hong Kong model, and will adopt a three-pronged approach focusing on enforcement, prevention and education.

It is time to get tough on corruption. Under a DA government, there will be no place to hide for corrupt politicians, public servants, and business people. Building a society based on Freedom, Fairness, Opportunity and Diversity, begins with defeating corruption.

The Democratic Alliance cannot support the adjustment budget in principle.