The Eastern Cape Health MEC has been gifted a brand-new car of just under R1m as part of the Eastern Cape Adjustment Budget.
Bobby Stevensen, the Democratic Alliance (DA) shadow MEC for Finance in the Eastern Cape, writes: “Part of the adjustments for the Health Department includes R901,000 for a new vehicle for the MEC, whereas we can only afford to spend R325,000 on wheelchairs, hearing aids, and orthotics.
“This lavish expenditure highlights how out of touch the collapsing Health Department is with reality. We condemn it in the strongest terms. Also, once a new MEC comes in after an election, that MEC is entitled to a new vehicle, so spending R901 000 now is a total waste of money and we cannot support it.
“The question that needs to be asked is ‘what has happened to the fiscal consolidation strategy of the Minister of Finance?’ Buying a vehicle at this price is giving the middle finger to fiscal austerity.
“There is no doubt that this province has now become extremely cash-strapped. The departments requested an additional R4.076bn in the adjustment budget, but only received R675m. Health requested R1.8bn, and received R325.9m, education requested R1.247bn and received R126m.
“When it comes to belt-tightening, the provincial government’s belt is still too loose. In the last financial year this province spent at least R1.4bn on non-core business, including catering R101.5m, consultants R565m, and transport and accommodation R792m. One would have expected the MEC to announce bigger cuts than the R45m he mentioned.
“In many countries overseas, they have what is called ‘caretaker policies’, that come into play six months before an election. This means no new vehicles, buildings, rentals, contracts, and political advertising. No one begrudges the MEC for Health having a safe and decent vehicle to ride around in, but given the cash crisis around Health, the MEC should be setting an example.
“Corruption in the Eastern Cape is undermining service delivery. The auditor general has indicated that irregular expenditure, that the province still needs to deal with, is up to R5.26bn. This could grow by a further R1.73bn which is currently under investigation.”