21 Days of Governance
21 days into the 6th administration, Zamani Saul and his cabinet have hit the ground running. A day after his inauguration, the premier implemented a vocational training for the youth of Lerato Park, Jacksonville and Bobo se Plaas where they are set to receive training for different skills development programmes commencing in July.
Saul made good on his promise to cut spending on cars for his provincial executive by buying 23 new ambulances for the province – the first in a batch of 63.
At his inauguration, he delivered his speech not in the comfortable, leather-bound comfort of the Northern Cape Provincial Legislature, but in the Lerato Park informal settlement.
In it, Saul stated that “Hard-work and courage are the two key values that will define the work of this sixth administration. I commit here that I will be an activist premier who will always be among the people. I will spend less time absorbed in the comforts of the office and dwelling in the shade of self-adulation”.
Saul also stated that he would have an office in the provincial department of health as well as in the casualty section of Robert [Mangaliso] Sobukwe Hospital, spurning the comforts of the premier’s office.
On the 7th of June he headed to the hospital where he spoke to the management and staff. The staff used the opportunity to raise numerous issues including the establishment of a district hospital, an orthopedic unit which actually functions and a high care unit at the hospital.
Another area of concern raised was the long queues at the casualty section. The reason for this, some of the staff said, was that there is only one staff member at reception who has to walk a fair distance to obtain patients files.
“It is just one person who does that. So once the patient has been registered on the system by a staff member, that very same staff member has to go and find the file, which holds everything up resulting in the queues staying long. It must also be remembered that this filing room holds files for the entire Northern Cape”.
Regarding the ICU, the staff said that it was currently full, which further compromised patients.
In addition to this, there is no high care unit where patients can be accommodated after leaving the intensive care unit.
Psychiatric patients also posed a problem for staff at the hospital. It was pointed out that these patients had to be treated at the West End Hospital but as there were no beds available there, the Robert Mangaliso Sobukwe Hospital had to accommodate them.
A staff member choosing to remain anonymous said that they become “disruptive and break the already lacking expensive equipment”.
“We also try to put them on available beds, but they just jump down and lie on the floor. This makes it look like we force them to sleep on the floor, which isn’t the case”.
Staff also raised the issue of the shortage of simple equipment such as stretchers and wheelchairs.
The premier asked that the staff write a report of what was happening in the hospital and also of what he had witnessed.
The premier vowed to bridge the gap between residents and their elected representatives.
“Leadership is not royalty, our responsibility is to serve,” he said. “People disengage because of the social distance and servant leadership is very conscious of this”.
The premier added that he was “very conscious of the trappings of power”. He explained his rationale behind his move to remove the display pictures of himself and his executive by simply asking, “Why should there be pictures of all these people?”
Saul also said he would do away with red carpets at provincial functions, “We are not celebrities. If I see a red carpet, I will remove it myself”.
Premier Saul engaged young parents at Niewoudtville Sports Hall on Sunday, 16 June. The engagement was aimed at addressing issues of teenage pregnancies and outlining available government opportunities for the youth. Saul informed the youth that government and its agencies such as the National Youth Development Agency will over the month host a number of engagements including youth expos, dialogues and youth entrepreneur hubs to showcase opportunities available to young people, as part of improving the lives of the youth of the Northern Cape.