Councils must take responsibility

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Christopher Motabogi

The Free State Treasury will continue to support municipalities, but ultimately these must take responsibility for the people they appoint to lead these important institutions. This is according to newly appointed provincial Finance MEC, Elzabe Rockman, who, along with new Health MEC, Benny Malakoane, tabled their respective 2013 budgets at a legislature sitting in Reddersburg on Friday. Rockman says there are signs of improvement in the realization of clean audits for 2014. “This progress remains insufficient viewed against the ambitious target of clean audits in all departments, entities and municipalities by 2014” she warned.

Rockman’s comments came a day after Auditor-General Terrence Nombembe painted yet another dire picture of severe wastage of state resources in government institutions, including the Free State. “A concerted effort is required to address government’s long-standing human resources capacity and productivity challenges. Vacancies in key positions and instability in leadership positions affect the pace of sustainable audit improvements,” warned Nombembe, adding that…”ineffective performance management is evident at some auditees, which means that officials who perform poorly are not dealt with decisively.”
However, Nombembe noted hard work done to ensure clean audits was achieved by the Free State Legislature, Treasury and Premier’s Office.

Meanwhile, Rockman said treasury will ensure that 70% of the mostly procured items are sourced from small, medium and macro enterprises and will make sure that creditors are paid within 30 days.
New Health MEC, Benny Malakoane, meanwhile announced plans to address problems in his department, including lack of medicines at clinics and failure to pay creditors on time for work done for the department.
Malakoane said he would use his first 100 days in office to implement a turn-around strategy to include:
• a financial recovery plan intended to
address the current financial woes
• a comprehensive audit of human resources
• a changed management programme to improve staff morale, professionalism and productivity
• growing existing partnerships with Free State University’s Faculty of Health Sciences

But Malakoane, himself a medical doctor, drew the ire of opposition parties Cope and DA for a lack of proper emergency medical services, particularly the 150 ambulances (0.55 ambulances per 10 000 population).
“We in the Free State have been experiencing problems with ambulances for a long time now. It’s about time they (ANC) look at other models of addressing this issue of ambulances” said DA FS caucus leader, Basil Alexander.
Cope’s Sylvia Lala said it is unacceptable for the province’s biggest hospitals like Pelonomi, to be without water as was recently experienced.
Health Department Budget highlights (according to MEC Malakoane):
* 2013/2014 total Health Budget: R7, 89-billion
* 450, 850 people were provided HIV counselling of which 387, 878 were tested
* Provincial HIV Mother-to-Child Transmission rate decreased from 7% to 3% in 2012
* 1 202 317 people screened for tuberculosis
* From 1 April 2013, new fixed dose combination drug to be administered to AIDS patients. It means taking one pill instead of three tablets daily.
* 60 emergency care practitioners to be trained
*New CEOs for Universitas and Pelonomi Hospitals to be appointed during first quarter of this financial year
All 24 district hospitals will be assessed for compliance against priorities of the Core Standards for Health Services. Following the assessments, relevant interventions will be instituted to improve the quality of service.