EC Health finally pays millions owed to councils

Zandile Mbabela

THE Eastern Cape Health Department yesterday coughed up close to R100-million owed to three municipalities for services rendered last year.

Department head Dr Siva Pillay handed over a cheque for R70.1-million to the Nelson Mandela Bay Municipality for the running of clinics and hospitals as well as primary healthcare staff remuneration for the period of January to October last year.

The Buffalo City and King Sabata Dalindyebo municipalities were given R12.9-million and R13.4-million respectively.

Eastern Cape Health MEC Sicelo Gqobana said the money was supposed to have been paid out last year, following the provincialisation of state hospitals and clinics in December 2010.

“It is embarrassing to have municipalities incur such expenses [while] working for us, because we pushed for provincialisation,” he said.

“We committed ourselves to pay the money last year already and [Pillay] even said it would be paid out, but it wasn’t. “It was really unfair to do that to the municipalities because they were just not coping, so that is why we have been pushing to have this resolved and the money handed over to them now.”

Gqobana said the money was not linked to the non-payment of the city’s doctors and that the matter would be dealt with once the department complied with the Treasury’s requirements.

“The Treasury will only authorise payment once we have adequately verified doctors’ employment, so [Finance MEC Phumulo] Masualle was correct.”

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