ANCYL in Nelson Mandela Bay calls for health MEC Gomba’s exit
The ANC Youth League in Nelson Mandela Bay is calling for Eastern Cape health MEC Sindiswa Gomba to be recalled and to be replaced by a medical doctor.
In a statement on Friday, ANCYL regional task team convener Bongani Mabusela said the youth league wanted Gomba recalled with immediate effect and called on Eastern Cape premier Oscar Mabuyane to provide leadership while strengthening the department.
“We do not make this call as a personal attack on the current MEC but we are extremely concerned about the number of people who may lose their lives if there is no urgent attempt to rescue the situation and to aid the efforts of the government during these difficult times,” Mabusela said.
On Wednesday, health minister Zweli Mkhize said that he, along with Gomba, had agreed to the deployment of deputy director-general of health Litha Matiwane to Nelson Mandela Bay to take charge of the district, providing leadership and putting together a strong, coherent response to be followed by teams undertaking tracing, screening and testing.
Gomba’s spokesperson, Judy Ngoloyi, said the ANCYL was misinterpreting Mkhize’s intervention.
“The top official deployed to the metro is the deputy director-general of district support services in the department of health in Bhisho,” she said.
On the youth structure’s call for Gomba to be axed, she said she could not comment as it was the premier’s call.
Mkhize’s announcement followed a presentation by Dr John Black, head of the Infectious Diseases and HIV Unit at Livingstone Hospital, who painted a bleak picture of a department hopelessly ill-prepared to deal with the virus.
Among the challenges were that hospitals were full, and there was a dire shortage of staff and an urgent need for personal protective equipment (PPE) for health staff.
Meanwhile, Mabusela welcomed Mkhize’s intervention in the Bay and said it came as a result of the inability of the provincial health department to provide balanced and up-to-date figures of the pandemic in the province.
“It has become quite evident to us that there is serious incapacity and ill-preparation to deal with the spread of this pandemic at a provincial government level, particularly the provincial health department,” Mabusela said.
“We are extremely dissatisfied with the provincial health department’s lack of precision in dealing with a pandemic as deadly as the coronavirus.
“It is quite evident that the tracing, screening and testing in the municipality has been an abysmal failure and that there have been no attempts to rescue the situation and ultimately curb the spread of the virus.
“As much as we understand that the problems facing the provincial health department are a sign of an even greater crisis in the provincial leadership, we cannot excuse the mediocrity it has displayed throughout the period of national lockdown in SA.”
Responding to the statement, Mabuyane’s spokesperson Mvusiwekhaya Sicwetsha said there was a dramatic, flawed understanding and misrepresentation by the media and the ANCYL of the outcomes of the meeting between Mkhize and Gomba.
“Dr Mkhize was communicating agreements reached with MEC Gomba. The health minister’s intervention is not a takeover of anything but a provision of support requested by the province through the premier and MEC’s call to the national government,” Sicwetsha said.
“The deputy director-general assigned to the metro is from the provincial department of health and not the national department of health.”
Commenting on Mkhize’s statement that the number of reported deaths and reporting did not match, Sicwetsha claimed the minister did not mean the pure calculation or the sense of a mathematical determination of the amount.
“He meant it in the epidemiological sense in the context of the need to increase the pace and number of people tested based on the assumption linked to the standard modelling used for managing the response to the pandemic. The provincial government did not manipulate figures of testing and of the tragic deaths,” Sicwetsha said.
On Friday, provincial health spokesperson Sizwe Kupelo announced that additional resources were being directed to the metro.
Kupelo said Gomba was sending 15 more vans to the city to beef up testing, tracing and screening.
In addition, Gomba would be fast-tracking the appointment of a chief director of health to the metro at a district level.
Mabusela also touched on the food parcels scandal that has gripped the metro.
Some Bay councillors have been accused of stealing food parcels meant for the poor, with the EFF in the Bay laying a complaint with police last week against ANC Ward 56 councillor Mambalu Mgcokoca.
Mgcokoca denied allegations that she had stolen food parcels.
Mabusela said the youth structure was disgusted by the allegations and said such conduct was inhumane, especially coming from leaders of society.
“These thieves, whose names have been brought to our attention and who are known to us, deserve nothing short of severe punishment,” he said.
He said they would write to the ANC regional task team co-ordinator Luyolo Nqakula to investigate.
On Friday, Nqakula said: “The ANCYL has solicited a meeting with myself. I did say to the ANCYL co-ordinator [Bongani Mani] I will confirm the date of our virtual meeting.
“In our brief telephone conversation, the ANCYL co-ordinator did say that they would be raising some issues which are areas of concern.”