A very sick health dept

This week, the Mail & Guardian reports on the debilitating rot that set in at the Gauteng department of health during the tenure of current Gauteng ANC chief whip Brian Hlongwa.

This is not the first time this newspaper or others have reported on this blatant corruption, and in great detail. As early as 2008, we reported on the firm 3P Consulting, which was brought in at tremendous cost essentially to loot the department. Among its “services” would be to receive the prepared health department budget and to return it, seemingly untouched. Another would be to host a beach football and volleyball tournament.

The recently released final special investigations unit report, which has been released by President Cyril Ramaphosa, details that the firm’s point of access, as it would be for many others, was Hlongwa and a cohort of his cronies. Some among this coterie of villains are all-too-familiar figures. Cue the now all-too-familiar pattern of patronage — houses, overseas trips, spa treatments.

The net result of the looting would quickly become apparent: “The effect of the decision is that public resources … allocated for medicines, to employ more health professionals, including nurses and doctors, and to provide patients with food will have to be diverted to pay consultants. This cannot be acceptable.”

Ironic, then, that these words, after a failed attempt through the courts to recoup hundreds of millions of rands from 3P Consulting, were uttered by Hlongwa’s successor in the health department, Qedani Mahlangu.

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