Members Statement: Premier must choose competence over political patronage

Issued by Jane Cowley, MPL
Shadow MEC for Health

On the 25th of May this year, I put a motion with notice to the House in terms of Section 131 of the Eastern Cape Legislature Standing Rules of Order that called for the House to resolve that the Premier dismiss the MEC for Health.

During a multi-party Whips meeting, the ANC objected to the motion being debated, based on faulty legal advice given to them that it is unconstitutional to debate a motion of no confidence in an individual member of the Executive Council.

I sought high level legal opinion in this regard and, because my motion was not a motion of no confidence, it is not subject to the provisions as stated by Section 141 of the Constitution. It is simply a Notice of Motion calling for a resolution in terms of which the Premier should dismiss the MEC for Health.

Furthermore, it is not unconstitutional to take a stance on whether the MEC is competent to fulfil her duties, because the result of the debate is not binding on the Premier. The discretion lies with him as to whether he acts upon the resolution, if it is passed.

The ANC’s attempt to muzzle the opposition parties to protect their own failures is both pathetic and expected. It says more about the desperate state of the ruling party, which despite publically denouncing corruption and criminality, would rather protect an alleged criminal than appoint a qualified and competent champion for health in the province.

Let us be reminded of a few of the failures of the department of Health under MEC Gomba:

  • Continued chronic understaffing of all hospitals and almost all clinics in the province, which has put healthcare workers under immense strain.
  • Hospitals and clinics managed by officials in acting positions, who are not all qualified to manage these facilities and which has resulted, in the Premier’s own words, incapacity at institutional level.
  • No tangible plans to decentralise the EMS service in the province, which has, in its current format, resulted in far too many preventable deaths.
  • No plan of action to implement any of the recommendations made by the Health Ombudsman, or the Administrator of the Mental Health programme, Professor Mkhize, to improve mental health care in the province.
  • An appalling lack of integrated planning and implementation to respond to the Covid-19 pandemic, which proved lethal to frontline workers, and a very poor communication strategy to the Health Portfolio Committee and to the public, who have essentially been kept in the dark from the onset of the pandemic.

According to top legal advice in the province, this Motion may proceed in the same manner as any other Motion provided for under section 131 of the Standing Rules.

I will therefore submit the Motion again and I challenge the ruling party to man up and debate it.