As political parties intensify their campaigns ahead of the 8 May general elections, the National Health Council (NHC) led by Health Minister Dr Aaron Motsoaledi has discouraged the canvassing of votes at health institutions across South Africa, reports Africa News24-7. Motsoaledi said staff at hospitals were already grappling with massive workloads and should be spared from political canvassing by ambitious politicians who were crisscrossing the country ahead of the upcoming tightly contested polls.
“Not only are we worried about patients, the professionals and workers, (but) our health facilities are overburdened already. They can’t carry the load of work and then take care of the needs of politicians who rock into a facility unannounced and without authorisation,” Motsoaledi is quoted in the report as saying. “Our health workers should be allowed space to perform their valuable work.”
The report says the NHC is the highest decision making body in the Health Department, comprised of the incumbent minister and the nine provincial members of the executive councils (MECs) of health. The forum recently held a teleconference to discuss this issue of campaigns in hospital corridors, after receiving information that political parties were intending to canvass for votes at health facilities.
“The NHC firmly resolved that canvassing for elections inside a hospital or any health facility is a very bad practice that should be discouraged at all cost. We do respect the fact that Members of Parliament may wish to do oversight work in any public institutions funded with money appropriated by Parliament,” Health Department spokesperson Popo Maja said in the report. “However, any visit by any member of Parliament or Legislature must happen through normal established channels, that is, through a Parliamentary and Legislature Portfolio Committee or Select Committee of the NCOP.”
Maja said hospitals are places where “the most vulnerable people go for relief when under distress”. “It would be immoral for political parties to take advantage of their challenges for election purposes. On this fact, we must emphasise that there was unanimous agreement between all the MECs and the minister,” he said. “Let us as a nation give our sick brothers and sisters space to recuperate.”
[link url="https://africanews24-7.co.za/index.php/south-africa/election2019-hospitals-are-no-campaign-grounds/"]Africa News24-7 report[/link]