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Health Minister Zweli Mkhize in the Eastern Cape / Image via Twitter: Dr Zweli Mkhize

DA slams Mkhize for refusing to place Eastern Cape under administration

Health minister concedes the Eastern Cape is faced with many challenges but said placing the province under administration was ‘premature’.

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Health Minister Zweli Mkhize in the Eastern Cape / Image via Twitter: Dr Zweli Mkhize

Following the Eastern Cape’s COVID-19 presentation to the parliamentary health portfolio committee, the DA says it’s evident the province is ailing and should be placed under administration.

The portfolio committee, alongside Minister Zweli Mkhize, visited the province on Wednesday 22 July to assess the measures the provincial government had put in place to curb the spread of COVID-19.

This was ahead of the predicted COVID-19 peak in August which was likely to result in 9 000 or more deaths in Eastern Cape, according to Mkhize.

The DA’s shadow minister of health Siviwe Gwarube said: “This engagement with the province has proven that over and above the surge that is being experienced, the health system and those in leadership positions in the province are out of their depth.”


Gwarube said provincial health officials, by their own admission, said there were many challenges which crippled the fight against COVID-19.  

“This admission was particularly concerning considering that the Minister of Health, Dr Zweli Mkhize, has confirmed in a letter to me that he will not be instituting a section 100 intervention by placing the province under administration.”

She said the minister’s reason for refusing to place the province under administration was that other provinces were also beset by the same challenges as the Eastern Cape.

“This he argues without an honest admission that the Eastern Cape provincial health system is deeply compromised and broken. This cannot be compared with the strength of the health system in the Western Cape or even Gauteng,” said Gwarube.


As at 21 July, Eastern Cape accounted for 945 deaths of the country’s 5 368 fatalities. Minister Mkhize said the symptomatic COVID-19 infections in Eastern Cape were at 66 759, warning the number was likely to rise to 90 000 during the speculated peak next month.

Citing the projected numbers, the DA’s Gwarube said a quick turnaround strategy was needed to prevent the “free-fall” of the province.

“This needs to be done without the constant political considerations that are being made at the expense of lives,” said DA’.

Gwarube said the presentation painted a grim state of affairs in the province.

“The province only still has one functioning donated field hospital which is operating at half the capacity in Nelson Mandela Bay; there is shortage of life-saving oxygen tanks in many parts of the province,” she said.


Mkhize conceded that the province was plagued by a litany of woes but stressed that placing it under administration was “premature”.

During his oversight visit at the Livingstone Hospital in Port Elizabeth on Wednesday, Mkhize told the health officials to “fix” issues of management and cleanliness at health care facilities.

“What we are facing are real practical challenges and these are things which we would like you to solve as quickly as possible. The first is the question of who is in charge of which institution. Let’s solve that problem. Someone must take charge. Someone must take responsibility,” said Mkhize.

He told the officials that the quality of a health care facility is linked to its cleanliness.

Mkhize also said that a strong mobilisation was needed to destigmatize COVID-19, and support the people who were required to test for the pandemic.

“You need someone else to be with you as you go through a journey that has a lot of uncertainty, as with COVID-19. A lot of people are recovering, but we want to make sure that as few as possible succumb to the infection,” said the minister.