New Multimillion Rand Hospital for Limpopo

Siloam - President Jacob Zuma has announced plans to build a new R250 million hospital in Limpopo to address the critical challenges of the health system in the province.

He made the announcement during a visit to the province on Thursday, where he focused on health challenges facing the population at one of South Africa’s most rural provinces.

The visit to Limpopo by Zuma forms part of the presidential performance monitoring exercise to ensure the implementation of government’s 12 Outcomes approved by Cabinet. It was the second of such visits following his trip to the Eastern Cape last month, where he addressed the challenges of education there. He scheduled to visit five other provinces in the coming months.

Addressing scores of people at Siloam village, about 40 kilometres from Beit Bridge, Zuma said the hospital will be built in phases over a period of three years and will replace the old hospital in the area.

“We are here to do performance monitoring and evaluation and we are here to check how government is performing and as part of that, we want to ensure that you are happy with the services that are being rendered to you,” he said speaking from a makeshift tent that was packed by locals who had come to listen to him.

Accompanied by Minister in the Presidency Collins Chabane, Health Minister Aaron Motsoaledi and Limpopo Premier Cassel Mathale, Zuma further said that the government’s new monitoring and evaluation approach will ensure that issues of health and education become top of the State service delivery agenda.

“The monitoring we are doing is not through papers. It is concrete and we want to see and hear what people are saying, so when something is not working it can be changed,” Zuma said after listening to complaints from the residents, who said their health was being compromised as a result of the inadequacy of the current Siloam Hospital.

Earlier, Zuma went on an impromptu walkabout at the hospital where he witnessed firsthand the challenges there and promised to take action.

The people from the dusty streets of the village, who had gathered outside the hospital to welcome Zuma, greeted him with cheers and could not believe he was walking in their midst.

As he passed one of them, Muhatuli Mphepu shouted and demanded that Zuma fire all the managers at the hospital “because they are useless.”

"We want you to fire all of them Msholozi because they are useless and people are dying because we do not have a proper hospital system here,” she said in TshiVenda.

In his usual calm approach, Zuma acknowledged the woman with a smile and proceeded to the hospital’s entrance.

In the presence of Premier Mathale, he later promised at the community gathering that an investigation would look into the challenges experienced at the hospital, which was received by loud cheers from the community.

A sad picture of poverty emerged during the visit, where people living in shacks also tried to plea to the President to address their problems such as unemployment and lack of amenities. But Zuma was quick to point out that his visit had focused on health matters, particularly the issue of the hospital.

He asked residents who had raised other issues to write them down and pass the list to his officials. Insisting on being a programme director for the meeting, the President encouraged those who attended to speak their minds “and don’t be afraid of the government.”

“No baba come here to the front, come and speak from here next to me so people can see you. Don’t listen to that one…” he jokingly said after his spokesperson Zizi Kodwa tried to interfere with one of the community speakers.

Nurses also came in for harsh criticism from residents. They complained that they often had to wait for several hours at the hospital before receiving attention.

After the meeting, Zuma was whisked away to a helicopter for another trip to Lebowakgomo, where he visited a hospital before a meeting with officials at the provincial legislature.

Report by Chris Bathembu of BuaNews