Tenderpreneurship key to Limpopo collapse – Motsoaledi
Tenderpreneurship played a pivotal role in the collapse of the Limpopo health department, Health Minister Aaron Motsoaledi has said.
Addressing the media in Polokwane following a meeting with senior provincial health officials today, Motsoaledi said health facilities in Limpopo, including clinics and hospitals had almost come to a standstill as a result of tender corruption.
The health department in Limpopo is among five departments placed under administration by the national government almost a year ago as a result of financial irregularities, maladministration, fraud and tender corruption.
Officials from his department found that about 38 boilers in 19 hospitals had completely collapsed because of the lack of maintenance. Contracts to maintain the boilers were outsourced to people who didn’t know anything about boilers. “You can’t take you Mercedes-Benz and give it to some guy in the rural areas and ask him to maintain it for you. Can you? No, you have to take it to Mercedes-Benz and it has quite a complicated electronic system.”
Motsoaledi said a broken boiler could easily disrupt the functioning of the whole hospital. “Boiler systems in hospitals are very sensitive areas which require a high degree of maintenance … Non-functional boilers affect many areas of hospital services such as autoclaves, which are used to sterilise equipment after each operation, and if the autoclave is non-functional it may result in the theatre being closed.
“Hospital kitchens use steam pots from the boiler for preparing meals for patients, laundry services and geysers.”
In the recent past there have been numerous complaints about the lack of X-ray machines in Limpopo. However, an audit found that last year the province bought many X-ray machines, which couldn’t be used as they were not properly certified with the Radiation Control Authority. “They need to be certified as these machines emit toxic radiation and we need to know the manufacturer, the country they came from et cetera,” Motsoaledi said, citing failure to certify the machines as another example of tenderpreneurship having gone awry.
National Treasury and the European Union came to the rescue, said Motsoaledi. Treasury gave the department R88 million to fix the boilers, while the EU has donated an extra R50 million for the autoclaves.
He said the department didn’t have a procurement policy. “Without policy very unfortunate things happened. In some cases prices were highly inflated, sometimes up to 100 times the actual cost.”
Earlier this year, City Press reported on another instance of unlawful procurement worth R167 million.
In order to arrest the bleeding of the department’s finances, Motsoaledi said when administrators came in a year ago, they put austerity measures in place to reduce cost and expenditure on non-essentials such as travel and accommodation, telephone and cellphone expenses and catering.
“The implementation of these austerity measures by the administration has culminated into savings to the value of R88 million from April to October 2012. The savings are utilised by the department to address the current budget pressures in the provision of laboratory and blood services, which are projected for over expenditure,” he said.
The department and its Gauteng and Eastern Cape counterparts – which have been put under a different form of administration – employ about 45 000 people. Motsoaledi said he had to go through a clean-up exercise of the human resources system (Persal) to abolish redundant posts in all three provinces.
A headcount is being performed and he didn’t rule out the existence of ghost employees.