Gauteng Premier announces new Health MEC

Johannesburg – Dr Nomathemba Mokgethi has been announced as the new Gauteng MEC for Health.

Gauteng Premier David Makhura made the announcement as the province bolsters its COVID-19 response.

Mokgethi, who has been moved from the Department of Social Development, has 27 years’ experience in local government and the health sector.

She is a former nurse with a Master’s Degree in Nursing Science and a Doctorate in Literature and Philosophy from the University of South Africa (UNISA) under her name.

“Even in her Doctorate, she even focuses on matters pertaining to healthcare, especially HIV and Aids,” Makhura told the media on Wednesday.

Mokgethi’s appointment comes after the former MEC for Health, Dr Bandile Masuku, was sacked after the Special Investigating Unit’s damning report on the personal protective equipment tender irregularities that happened under his watch.

Changes to the  PEC

The Premier made further changes to his Provincial Executive Council (PEC).

Former Johannesburg Mayor and the Deputy Minister for Co-operative Governance (COGTA), Parks Tau, will take over from Morakane Mosupyoe as the new MEC for the Department of Economic Development.

According to Makhura, Tau is currently wrapping up his parliamentary work and will be sworn in as a member of the Gauteng legislature next week.

Makhura has described Tau as a seasoned administrator with substantial governance experience.

He also led the Finance and Economic Portfolio in the City of Johannesburg.

“His greatest strength includes the area of leading the portfolio of the economic environment. He was also responsible for development planning and environment, and transport in the City of Johannesburg,” Makhura said, adding that he also possesses vast global experience with working with international bodies and networks.

Makhura believes Tau will assist in attracting investors.

Meanwhile, Mosupyoe was announced as the new MEC for Social Development.

She is the former chairperson of Social Development Portfolio Committee in the legislature, and also served in the City of Tshwane as the Mayoral Committee Member responsible for health and social development.

“Her greatest strength is in the area of social development, working with communities; the excluded and marginalised, women and people with disabilities,” the Premier said, adding that she is good at mobilising people to fight against gender-based violence.

Makhura said the department is critical in dealing with urban poverty and hunger.

He believes that this reshuffle will reinforce Team Gauteng’s response to COVID-19.

This, he said, will help in rebuilding the economy, which has been severely impacted by the pandemic and responding to the pressures that the millions of citizens are facing especially, the unemployed.

“So, these three areas are critical and the rest of the executive will remain the same,” said Makhura.

Intervention team

Makhura has also appointed an intervention team of experts, including managers, administrators and clinician specialists to deal with the possible second wave of COVID-19 infections.

“Last week I spent time explaining that we need to do everything that we don’t lower the guard in Gauteng province. But we must be sure that we’re ready.”

The team will also look at the entire organisational structure of the Health Department, and will look at ways to boost primary healthcare, institutional leadership of hospitals, including decentralisation and devolution of certain functions from the local level to the head office.

It will also look at how to deal with what has been a systematic problem in financial governance, irregular practices, corruption and sustained areas where the department has been found involved in acts of corruption.

COVID-19 surge

Makhura said tuberculosis (TB) and the treatment of other comorbidities such as HIV has had to take a backseat, owing to the focus on fighting the spread of COVID-19.

Meanwhile, he said the province is closely monitoring Coronavirus cases.

“The number of cases we’re reporting is increasing. In the last seven days, we have recorded over 1 800 new cases and that’s a matter of great concern. We may not be where the Eastern Cape and Western Cape are… but all indications are showing that we’re going to have a significant increase,” he said.

However, he called on residents to do better by observing all protocols.

The Premier is also concerned about the rising figures of HIV and Aids, and work is underway to ensure that people get tested and those who are sick are put on treatment.

“We’re responding to multiple pandemics, basically,” he said.

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