/ 4 February 2017

Life Esidimeni in Gauteng ANC’s crosshairs ahead of provincial lekgotla

ANC supporters gathered in their numbers to listen to the ANC Gauteng branch's elections manifesto launch at the FNB stadium on June 4
ANC supporters gathered in their numbers to listen to the ANC Gauteng branch's elections manifesto launch at the FNB stadium on June 4

Gauteng Premier David Makhura’s administration is expected to come under the spotlight over the deaths of 94 mentally ill people under state care when ANC Gauteng meets for its provincial lekgotla this weekend.

Gauteng Health MEC Qedani Mahlangu stepped down this week, hours before the health ombudsman revealed that at least 94 patients had died after being moved from their healthcare facility Life Esidimeni to 27 non-governmental organisations across the province.

The Economic Freedom Fighters, the Democratic Alliance and the ANC Youth League have pressed charges against the former health MEC and are calling for Makhura to step down.

The youth league has been chastised by the ANC at national level for its utterances about the deaths, which it described in a statement as being “atrocious, despicable and unbefiting not only members of the ANC but humanity at large”.

The ANC is expected to give its youth league leaders an opportunity to explain the posture the league has taken on the Life Esidimeni tragedy.

ANC Gauteng spokesperson Nkenke Kekana said the party was angry about the tragedy and “there has been a lot of finger pointing about what has happened. The bottom line is that the administration has let us down.”

He believed the report released by health ombudsman Malegapuru Makgoba was only the beginning.

“Beyond the politics of resignations, recalls and calling for this and that lies the challenge of improving the health system,” he said.

Kekana said a lot of good work had been done, but that the health system in Gauteng remained under stress.

Balance of forces in Gauteng

The party is expected to discuss the political situation in South Africa and how it fits into the greater picture.

The lekgotla will focus some of its attention on the party’s 54th national elective conference taking place in December and the challenges facing the ANC as it prepares for the conference.

Another item on the agenda is corporative governance.

“How do we position the ANC? On the one hand we are a party in power in the province and on the other we have municipalities that are run by the opposition,” said Kekana.

Kekana said the biggest challenge for all parties in leadership roles in the province was on how to improve service delivery for Gauteng residents.

“We don’t want to end up being caught in political differences and then the ground suffers,” he said.

Kekana raised concerns about the quality of service delivery in some parts of the province.

“We know that something is brewing in Jo’burg. Go to Alex today, it’s dirty and they don’t collect rubbish. In Soweto, things are not the same anymore,”

There is also a looming billing crisis in Johannesburg, with people receiving two bills with different amounts, he continued.

“How do we build on the service delivery record of the ANC. Given the challenges of the different political parties how do we continue to improve the lives of our people,” asked Kekana. — News24