The drama surrounding the rollout of medical motorbikes by the EC department of health (ECDOH) continues, with DA shadow minister of health Siviwe Gwarube accusing health minister Zweli Mkhize of “evading responsibility”.
Responding to questions in parliament on June 26, Mkhize said: “The purpose of the [scooter] project by ECDOH is mainly for widening access to primary health care and delivering of chronic medicine for the most remote areas of the EC.”
However, Gwarube said the minister had said otherwise just a few weeks ago.
“The facts are that these inadequate scooters were intended to transport patients and was launched with much fanfare by EC health authorities, including the minister himself.
“This, however, is in direct contradiction to his own comments on Twitter,” Gwarube said.
Gwarube was referring to a tweet by Mkhize on July 12, in which he said the scooters could be used to transport patients.
The scooters have been dogged by controversy since they were rolled out in June.
In that same parliamentary response, Mkhize admitted that the scooters did not meet the basic criteria to qualify as public ambulances.
He also said the national health department was not consulted before the ECDOH ordered the scooters.
As previously reported by the Daily Dispatch, Gwarube intends to submit Mkhize’s response as evidence to the Human Rights Commission (SAHRC) as supplementary evidence in an investigation the DA aims to launch.
“If the national department of health now backtracks from the initial purported function of the scooters which minister Mkhize personally endorsed, it begs the question why R10m is being spent on a chronic medication distribution system.
“What is the point of the first aid equipment, drip stands and the stretcher attached to the scooter?” she asked.