29 May 2019
The Public Service Accountability Monitor (PSAM) notes the recent announcement of the new Eastern Cape Provincial Cabinet by incoming Premier Oscar Mabuyane. The announcement comes at a time when various provincial departments are facing significant performance challenges. In this transitional phase, the PSAM encourages outgoing and incoming MECs and senior staff of departments to support a meaningful handover of critical responsibilities. It’s encouraging to note that nine women have been appointed to the provincial cabinet. This shows greater commitment to bringing about greater representation of women in key leadership positions.
According to the 2018/19 Adjusted Estimates of Provincial Revenue and Expenditure, the Eastern Cape Department of Education (ECDoE) has had poor mid-year performance in the delivery of basic services to schools. The ECDoE underperformed on the provision of water to schools where only 17 schools were provided with water against the target of 169 schools. The underperformance trends mean that most of the poor rural black learners will not benefit from quality education, as envisioned in the Action Plan to 2019: Towards the Realisation of Schooling 2030. Incoming MEC for Education, Mr Fundile Gade will need to ensure that underperformance is addressed, and this should start with introducing effective performance monitoring processes. The Premier, Education MEC and Public Works MEC also need to bolster technical capacity within infrastructure and planning units of departments to ensure that projects are delivered on time and against budgets and plans.
The national budget for the Department of Human Settlements has been reduced and impacted over the years cut as other sector departments like Higher Education and Health receive priority. The new MEC for Human Settlements, Ms. Nonkqubela Peters comes in at a critical time where budget constraints have resulted in cuts to human settlements targets especially on state houses that benefit low-income earners. The new MEC has a challenge ahead to ensure delivery within limited available resources but do so in an effective and efficient manner. This entails a clear understanding of how the current human settlements delivery strategy, the selected programmes and their implementation are able to deliver in the province. While a new MEC can bring in fresh ideas, different skills, and new energy, this should not impact negatively on areas where there has been encouraging signs of improvement with regard to delivery goals and objectives.
Currently half the world’s population does not have access to a healthcare system that affords them the most basic package of healthcare services. For the health department to deliver on the needs of families and individuals, there needs to be a transformation of the entire healthcare system in South Africa. The public healthcare system in the Eastern Cape is wrought with a range of problems which include service delivery failures, poor administration and resource limitations that are worsened by underspending over the last financial years.
The new Health MEC is Ms. Sindiswa Gomba who replaces Ms. Helen Sauls-August who has sat as an MEC in three portfolios over the last nine years. Sauls-August had dealt with a wide range of service delivery issues, including strikes by emergency medical staff, porters, nurses and clerks throughout the Eastern Cape. It is important that the incoming MEC brings stability to the provincial health service and resolves many recurrent service delivery issues.
The PSAM look forward to working with the new Health MEC to improve the healthcare system so as to reduce medical negligence claims, ambulance and medication shortages and lack of access to healthcare facilities, including mobile clinics .
Economic Development, Environmental Affairs and Tourism (DEDEAT)
The PSAM also has a particular interest in the Eastern Cape Government’s performance in the environmental governance arena, which is perennially something of a backwater in relation to its other functions. This is borne out by the fact that in recent years the budget of the Chief Directorate: Environmental Affairs has at no stage comprised more than between 0,41 and 0,49 % of the Province’s entire annual budget.
While the incoming MEC for DEDEAT, Gerald Mlungisi Mvoko has previously held MEC positions within Human Settlements and Education, he is unlikely to have the depth of insight to environmental realities which is a prerequisite for the provision of effective leadership to a beleaguered arm of government which is unsurprisingly struggling, and consistently failing, to fulfill its mandate.
At the same time, Mr Mvoko will be taking over the reins of a Department in which environmental protection is subsidiary to economic development imperatives, as evidenced inter alia by these functions’ respective budgetary dispensations. In this regard the Provincial Government would do well to follow the lead provided by the State President in his detachment of the national Forestry and Fisheries functions from Agriculture, and co-locating them with Environmental Affairs. Justice cannot be done to environmental governance under the present Provincial institutional arrangement.
For further information, please contact
Human Settlements Researcher
Environmental Governance Researcher
Tlamelo M Mothudi
Public Service Accountability Monitor
T: +27 (0) 46 603 8358
16B Prince Alfred Street, Makhanda, 6139
www.psam.org.za Twitter: @PSAM_AFRICA