Operations at NW medical stores come to standstill over pay, Lekalakala saga

It’s been three weeks since workers embarked on a go-slow, with supply of medicines at facilities fast running out.

FILE: Operations at the North West medical stores came to a standstill as workers demand better pay and the suspension of HoD Thabo Lekalakala. Picture: Masechaba Sefularo/EWN

MAHIKENG - As the portfolio committee of health and social development sits on Tuesday afternoon to deliberate on the embattled North West Health Department, operations at the provincial medical stores have ground to a halt as workers demand better pay and the suspension of HOD Thabo Lekalakala.

It’s been three weeks since workers embarked on a go-slow, with supply of medicines at facilities fast running out.

Workers affiliated to Nehawu say their demands have been ignored while money has been squandered through corrupt activities, including the controversial contract with Gupta-linked Mediosa for mobile clinic services.

Union representative Clifford Modise says they've been raising salary issues since 2012 but while the workload increases, wages remain the same.

“Salary level is the main issue. Right now, we’re serving 32 provincial hospitals but when it comes to the salary, it’s not worth it.”

The sit-in is expected to culminate in a strike next week.

'WHY DOES LEKALAKALA STILL HAVE HIS JOB?'

The North West portfolio committee on health says it wants the health MEC to appear before the legislature to explain why Lekalakala is still in the job.

The committee recommended a few weeks ago that MEC Magome Masike and Premier Supra Mahumapelo fire Lekalakala after he admitted to having gone on a Gupta sponsored trip to India a week after authorising a multimillion-rand payment to Mediosa.

Despite the recommendation, Mahumapelo has decided not to fire the HOD, sighting concerns around labour law.

Acting North West Health HOD Vuyo Mbulawa says he’ll be acting in the post while Lekalakala is on forced leave.

However, the committee’s Somadoda Sambata says he wants a clear explanation on the conditions of the forced leave.

“That matter is going to be dealt with officially with the MEC and if he does not arrive, we will write him a letter because he can’t force the acting HOD to act indefinitely. That on its own would make administration not clear.”

The Health Department has failed to present its draft annual performance plan which was expected to detail plans to end contracts with controversial companies.