#KZNOncologyCrisis – Screening campaign cannot be used to disguise a failed Health MEC

Democratic Alliance media statement by Dr Imran Keeka, MPL

DA KZN Spokesperson on  Health

#KZNOncologyCrisis – Screening campaign cannot be used to disguise a failed Health MEC

 

The Democratic Alliance in KwaZulu-Natal welcomes the launch of the National Cancer Campaign by National Health Minister Aaron Motsoaledi in the province today and hopes that this initiative will create a greater awareness of the various types of cancer and allow for early detection.

In KZN, it is the cancers which affect women that form a large percentage of conditions. Breast cancer has now been overtaken by cervical cancer yet these two cancers are by no means the only type that oncologists see.

With the introduction of the screening campaign, the DA is however deeply concerned that the result will be much higher numbers of detection, which the province does not have the capacity to fully manage.

We also have concerns around whether  KZN’s Health Department under MEC Sibongiseni Dhlomo is capable of properly managing patients going forward – particularly while there remains no sign of the R100million promised by President Ramaphosa for oncology services in the province. The DA raised this issue during a recent KZN Health portfolio committee meeting with the result that HOD Dr Gumede could not tell us when and if it will be made available.

This money is critical when it comes to addressing the multitude of problems currently collapsing the province’s oncology services. These include;

  • An ongoing shortage of oncologists. Ethekwini has just two full-time oncologists and three on a temporary contract. In Pietermartizburg, there are now three oncologists after one resigned earlier this year. Queen Nandi does not have an onsite oncology service – as is often misstated by MEC Dhlomo – with cancer patients from this facility and from Ngwelezana being sent for treatment to oncologists on temporary contract with the Department;
  • Major delays in getting patients to oncologists. Addington Hospital does not have a radiologist that is able to report on staging CT Scans and investigations for cancer patients that require such a service with the hospital having gone so far as to request help from other facilities;
  • Ongoing issues with the functionality of KZN’s mammography service facilities. A May 2018 written parliamentary reply (view here) from MEC Dhlomo confirmed that Queen Nandi Regional Hospital was not able to offer oncology services due to the unit not being licensed since there is no radiologist. Meanwhile, Prince Mshiyeni Memorial could also not offer services at the time as the mammography unit was broken and was going in for repairs. The response does not state that the mammogram at RK Khan’s Hospital has not been working for more than a year. Nor does it mention the fact that Addington Hospital’s machines either don’t work at all or break down frequently; and
  • The outcome of this is that patients who require CT Scans – those with suspected cancers or that require staging CT Scans to check how far the cancer has spread – must wait anything up to three months to have a scan. The DA has verified this during oversight inspections. To make matters worse, by the time patients finally get an appointment with an oncologist, they are told that the scans are old and have to be repeated, putting them back into a vicious waiting cycle.

To compound these issues, Addington’s nuclear physics department, essential for oncology services, has also closed. The result is that patients are being referred to King Edward VIII hospital and Inkosi Albert Luthuli Hospital which already have their own patient loads.

The DA has also received complaints regarding shortages of Chemotherapeutic drugs and related medicines after the issue was also picked up by NGO’s monitoring the supply of these medicines. Yet President Ramaphosa, his Health Minister and many of their provincial Health MEC’s have remained sitting on their hands while patients continued to die. In many cases, patients did not receive treatment and were simply sent home and told to come back the next day.

While surgical services at most KZN facilities do not have severe backlogs and cancer patients are prioritised, equipment such as Endoscopy equipment – used in this case for diagnosis of cancer and in procedures – is not always working and in some cases, patients wait for several months to have an investigation. In many cases this is too late because cancer does not wait for an appointment, it spreads.

The situation in our province is dire, yet MEC Dhlomo continues to mislead the public – most recently around the number of KZN cancer patients waiting for treatment and for how long they have been waiting.

In a report presented to the National Health Council earlier this year, it was stated that there are around 8 000 KZN patients waiting for oncology services. Yet, in an executive statement in June, MEC Dhlomo, disputed this, saying there were 3 000 patients waiting, with 500 added since the resumption of services in May 2018.

While the numbers are being debated, people are waiting and their cancer is not.  Even if Dhlomo is being straightforward about the 500 patients it still does not explain what happened to the original 7 500. Did they die while waiting?  The MEC is still unable to tell us this.  We already know via parliamentary replies and the MEC’s executive statement that some 530 cancer patients died while waiting for treatment.

The DA hopes that when the ANC national executive chose KZN to launch this campaign, they did so for the right reasons and not to bolster the image of a failed, human-rights violating Health MEC. If anything, they should use their positions to deal with him after KZN Premier Willies Mchunu and the ANC in this province have done nothing to ensure accountability.

As we enter the final run-up to elections, the uncaring ANC will continue to make false promises while continuing to deliver inadequate services riddled with corruption.  The people of KZN must punish them for this and get rid of incompetence and failing healthcare services when they go to the ballot box next year.

DA calls for Investigation into demolishing of Shembe Church

Marlaine_Nair

Democratic Alliance media statement by  Marlaine Naicker, CLLR

DA EThekwini Councillor

DA calls for Investigation into demolishing of Shembe Church

The Democratic Alliance in eThekwini, comprising myself, Caucus Chief Whip, Cllr Thabani Mthethwa and Deputy Caucus Leader Cllr Emmanuel Mhlongo recently met with a delegation from the Shembe Church Leadership to clear allegations that had been made against the Democratic Alliance relating to the demolition of a part of the Nazareth Baptist Temple situated in Thornwood in Ward 13. (please see attachment)

The delegation, led by Nazareth Judicial Council Chairperson, Mr Willington Myeni, contacted the Democratic Alliance seeking to seek answers on allegations that the DA had called for the City’s land invasion Unit to demolish the church structure.

The request for clarity came after members of the congregation were informed by the ANC Ward 13 Councillor Reginald Cloete that the DA PR councillor for Ward 13, Cllr Marlaine Nair had made the request.

We strongly condemn these baseless allegations and consider this incident to be a failed attempt to create unwarranted division between the Democratic Alliance and the Shembe Church. This kind of mischief-making is unacceptable and will not be tolerated.

Congregants of the church described how the City’s Land Invasion unit officials had used vulgar obscenities against the church leader whilst demolishing the structure that had been there for more than three years. According to members of the church, they had occupied the area for many years without any interference because they had received verbal permission from the eThekwini Municipality.

The Church was unable to open a case at the Mariannhill police station as they were turned away because they did not have written proof of the arrangement between the Church and the eThekwini Municipality. Members of the church have lodged a complaint with the CRL Commission (Commission for the Promotion and Protection of the rights of Cultural, Religious and Linguistics communities). Their affidavits can be found here (please see attachment)

Whilst the Democratic Alliance does not support illegal land invasion, we also do not support any form of lawless behaviour and disrespect for any religion or culture. Satisfied that the DA had no motive for wanting the church to be broken down, neither was there evidence to prove the allegation made against the party, the delegation requested that the Democratic Alliance write to the City’s Integrity and Investigations Unit as well as the City Manager on their behalf, requesting that a thorough investigation be conducted. The letter can be found here. (please see attachment)

The Democratic Alliance will continue to lead the fight against all forms of corruption as well as fight for the protection of religious and cultural rights for all South Africans.

The failing ANC has turned its back on the people of Wembezi

Democratic Alliance media statement by Francois Rodgers, MPL

Chief Whip to the DA in the KZN Legislature

The failing ANC has turned its back on the people of Wembezi

 

The DA has called on the failing ANC to hold its National Executive to account after most MEC’s failed to attend a Legislature to the People (TLTP) Sitting in rural Wembezi held this week.

The event comes at an estimated cost of R5million to taxpayers. Despite this, only two out of a total of 11 KZN ANC MEC’s bothered to arrive, with excuses ranging from ‘bosberaads’ to globe-trotting.

The DA regards the absence of practically the entire provincial executive as disgraceful. To add to this, only some 70% of all KZN ANC parliamentary members were in attendance.

This is a prime example of the Executive undermining the Legislature. It is also a slap in the face to the people of Wembezi in particular. There are numerous issued that this community has raised, yet it appears that the failing ANC does not care enough to come and hear them.

In May 2018, the DA led a walk-out of opposition parties in the KZN Legislature – rendering the House non-quorate – after only one MEC and less than half of all failing ANC members bothered to attend the province’s Housing Budget Sitting.

Today, we as a Caucus have taken the decision to put the people of Wembezi first and not to leave the Sitting.  The question that this community and others across our province must ask themselves is this – is this the sign of a government that cares?

The DA will continue to fight on behalf of the people KZN when it comes to accountability from government. The events of this TLTP have shown once and for all that the ANC in this province does not care about their wellbeing.

MEC has 48 hours to publicly retract Acting SAPS Commissioner’s ban on oversight inspections

Democratic Alliance media statement by Zwakele Mncwango, MPL

DA KZN Premier Candidate

 

MEC has 48 hours to publicly retract Acting SAPS Commissioner’s ban on oversight inspections

 

The Democratic Alliance (DA) has today written to KZN Community Safety and Liaison MEC, Mxolisi Kaunda, with an ultimatum to publicly retract a ban on public representatives, including DA Members of the Provincial Legislature, from conducting oversight inspections at the province’s SAPS stations. Click here to view the letter.

The move comes after KZN’s Acting SAPS Commissioner, Lieutenant-General, Lucky Mkhwanazi issued a circular (view here) instructing SAPS cluster and station commanders not to share any information with public representatives. The circular also stated that parliamentary portfolios committees must first obtain permission from the Provincial Police Headquarters before inspections.

The DA will not adhere to this instruction. We have given the MEC 48 hours in which to condemn and retract this unconstitutional directive from the Acting Commissioner.

As representatives of the South African public the DA has a duty to ensure that SAPS is held accountable. That duty requires oversight inspections and station-specific information. This right is upheld within the South African Constitution which empowers Legislature representatives to inspect government facilities and entities within the province. In addition, MPLs are also empowered by Section 206 (3) to obtain information with regard to police conduct, visible policing, police efficiency and effectiveness. Such information ensures that they can hold the police to account and keep all our communities safe.

The importance of SAPS oversight inspections – in particular unannounced visits – cannot be over-emphasised in a province which holds the dubious honour of recording the highest number of murders, culpable homicides and household crimes in the entire country.

These inspections are made all the more important given the recent results of the Victims of Crime Survey (VOCS) which revealed that only half of KwaZulu-Natal’s residents are satisfied with the way in which police are carrying out their mandate. This while 14% of those surveyed also said that police ‘never’ arrived, while 34.1% said that they had to wait more than two hours for police assistance. A further 29% of those surveyed also said that they ‘never’ saw the police, in uniform and duty in their area of residence.

The DA will not let this matter rest. We expect the MEC to respond to our ultimatum. In the event that he does not, the DA will not be deterred and will continue to conduct inspections of police stations and SAPS units across KwaZulu-Natal.

We remain committed to fighting for a safer South Africa where people and families feel safe to fulfil their potential; this requires an honest and professional police service.

DA welcomes move to protect KZN Treasury staff from failing ANC

Democratic Alliance media statement by Francois Rodgers, MPL

DA KZN Spokesperson on Finance

DA welcomes move to protect KZN Treasury staff from failing ANC

 

The Democratic Alliance welcomes recent moves by KZN Finance MEC, Belinda Scott, aimed at addressing ongoing thuggery and intimidation against members of the provincial Treasury by two so-called ‘business forums’ – the Ama Delangokubona Business Forum and the Federation for Radical Economic Transformation (FFRET).

According to reports, the MEC has obtained a temporary interdict against both forums, preventing them from threatening, interfering, intimidating or assaulting officials from Treasury, its employees, contractors, sub-contractors or anyone else acting on Treasury’s behalf. The forums have till November 9 to reply to the allegations against them.

It is now clear that MEC Scott ‘walks the talk’, unlike her cabinet counterparts, MEC’s Sihle Zikalala and Sibongiseni Dhlomo.

When the DA put an oral question to MEC Zikalala more than a month ago, he gave the province an undertaking that this matter would be dealt with decisively and that arrests and criminal charges would be forthcoming. This statement turned out to be nothing more than ‘hollow words’ and empty promises.

Meanwhile, MEC Dhlomo went so far as to consult with the same business forum members that held Treasury staff hostage. Engaging with criminals is not going to stop this new scourge.

Of particular concern to the DA are the allegations that both business forums are closely aligned to the failing ANC. Certainly this would indicate why there have been no arrests or charges laid to date.

The DA will not tolerate such double standards while KZN is placed at risk. Treasury plays a critical role in the financial stability of our province. When its staff are intimated and threatened, the province as a whole is held to ransom.

The DA regards the behaviour of these business forums as both criminal and unacceptable. And when law and order is ignored to pacify political thuggery, the signs become even clearer that the ANC has failed in its mandate to govern.