EC Health Department responds to Human Rights Commission Report

In response to the crisis in healthcare provision within the Eastern Cape province of South Africa, the Eastern Cape Health Crisis Action Coalition was established. In March 2015, following oral and written submissions (including submissions from the EC Health Crisis Coalition members), the South African Human Rights Council released a report on Emergency Medical Services which was submitted to the provincial Department of Health for response.

This week (13 April 2016), the Eastern Cape Health Crisis Action Coalition received the Eastern Cape Health Department’s response to the South African Human Rights Council’s report on Emergency Medical Services. The Coalition welcomes the opportunity to engage with the document ahead of the Eastern Cape Provincial Health Summit scheduled for 15 April 2016 at Turnbull Park in East London.

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Protests are not the panacea to lack of service delivery

There has been a rise in service delivery protests over the last couple of years. Official police statistics show that over the past 4 years there have been over 3000 service delivery protests in South Africa.  A monitoring agency, Municipal IQ, recorded 410 “major service delivery protests” between 2009 and 2012.

This is a sign of two things: that, firstly, citizens are tired of the status quo, and require change. Secondly, that they want to hold to account those they elected into power.

But the question is whether these protests are the most effective way of changing things? Do they change the status quo? Are they effective? If not, what are the effective ways to challenge the government, and to ensure that the government, at all levels, is held accountable?

Service delivery protests are but one, noticeable action. They may work to change some issues, but are they effective to make a lasting and sustainable change, and help build a culture of accountability within communities and government?

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South African public service recruitment needs a major overhaul

in 2013 the Freedom Front Plus complained about the South African public service which is “busy growing abnormally fast and has already reached alarming proportions”. They protested that “South Africa at present has 67 ministers and 159 directors general. Forty years ago, there were only 18 ministers, 6 deputy ministers and 18 directors general.”

By the end of October 2011, the public service had nearly 1,3 million people in its employ, including members of the South African National Defense Force. National government employed 391 922 people and the nine provincial governments 891 430 people.

It is important though to note that forty years ago, the public service was mainly serving the needs of a  minority of citizens of the country. The dawn of democracy meant that the public service would have to cater for a far greater number of South Africans, and therefore an increase in the public service size was inevitable, albeit the question of the actual size and its financial sustainability does call for interrogation.

However, a more critical question is whether this ‘large’ (more…)