dr klatzow

Whatever happened to the Rainbow Nation?

Richmark Sentinel, 8 February 2010

Capetonians were greeted with headlines in the Cape Times that the Robben Island ferry had “crashed”.  So it had in more ways than one.  We as a country cherish “the island” as one of our cultural heritages and because of the role that it plays in particular in ANC cultural and ideological history one would think that it would be high on the government’s agenda to run and maintain honestly, properly and efficiently.  Alas, this is not so.

The perfectly good ferries that used to take visitors across the bay were ditched and a new contract given to a more demographically representative company.  New and unnecessary boats were procured at huge and unjustifiable expense.  These have proven to be a disaster.  They have been out of commission for significant periods of time.  The spares are not locally available and long delays must be endured in the repair process.

As for the island itself, it appears to be run down and mismanaged to an extraordinary extent and degree. The finances cannot even stand up to an audit.

The litany of corruption and financial mismanagement goes on and on.

Sadly, this is but one of the long list of the cases where the government has demonstrated its genius for the reverse Midas touch.

When I was a younger man, there was a good health system in place. The separate facilities for “non-whites” was always a sour point with us as Wits Students, but they were all workable hospitals staffed by the best intellects that the Witwatersrand medical school could provide.  Treatment and equipment was state of the art.  They were clean and well stocked with drugs and other medical supplies.  Many students came from afar to train at our hospitals. Groote Schuur Hospital in Cape Town was world renown.

I was privileged to spend time at a small hospital called the Charles Johnson Memorial Hospital in a rural hamlet called NQUTU in the wilds of Zululand.  This was run by a wonderful husband and wife team Anthony and Maggie Barker.

Sophisticated medicine and care was available to the poorest of the poor.  Nurses were trained at the hospital to as good a standard as anywhere that I have seen.

Where are we now?

I have been in several of our hospitals recently including the Charles Johnson.  They are, I am afraid, a national disgrace.

A recent incursion into Groote Schuur revealed a neurology ward where there were no toilet seats, men and women shared a mixed ward, there was no toilet paper, no soap in the bathrooms and no towels.  The head of the unit told me that the toilets were too disgusting for his own use. The intern in charge of this case was clueless and not up to the job.The casualty was filthy, desperately disorganized and overcrowded. The entire experience was so bad that I had the patient removed and taken to a private clinic.

It would be hopeful if this was an isolated incident but sadly, it is not.

The Charles Johnson is equally a mess.  The Johannesburg General and Tygerberg are in the same deplorable state.

Medical linen and supplies are pillaged from these hospitals quite openly.  Cadre deployment in key positions has resulted in disaster upon disaster.  Recently in the Eastern Cape, the unacceptable neonatal death rate was highlighted publicly by a brave doctor.  The various ANC luminaries including the late unlamented Manto, merely punished the whistle blower.

Health care for the poor in this country is now worse than it was under the Nationalists.  Government interference in both medical education and subsequent setting up of practice by the newly qualified doctors has worsened the situation. 

The requirements for admission based on race are as racist as anything in the past.  The preponderance of females in the intake will have very negative consequences for healthcare in 10-15 years from now.

I wish that I could list healthcare as an aberration.  Unfortunately, I cannot.  Cadre deployment throughout the civil service has provided a fertile breeding ground for corruption and incompetence.

SAA chief, Khaya Ngqula, was paid R8 million rand settlement after he was fired for his role in a R1 billion tender rigging scam.

Coleman Andrews, a former chief of SAA, was paid a golden handshake of R232 million despite presiding over an airline which listed a R700 million loss for the year.  He also presided over the sale of SAA assets which bought temporary respite in the balance sheets.

Denel Chief executive, Victor Moche, took home R3 million after being fired by Alec Erwin.

Dali Mpofu took R11 million so that the SABC could get rid of him to try to claw its way out of the abyss in which it found itself.  In any event, the SABC is as bad a propaganda machine as it was under the Nationalists.  The spirit of Joseph Goebbels is alive and well in Auckland Park.

These are just the tip of the iceberg.

I was entertained recently to hear that one of our overweight arrogant traffic cops had pulled Judge Geraldine Borchers over for some alleged offence and tried to solicit a bribe from her ladyship.  Bad move.  Good on the judge who promptly laid charges and pursued them.

There are many other examples of government disasters.  The common thread running throughout is cadre deployment and jobs for political pals which together with a total contempt for accountability will ensure that we will go from bad to worse.

Education is in crisis with the stupidly applied OBE system.  We have produced a generation of educationally crippled children.  This alone is having serious sociopolitical fallout.

Selebi, who appeared to be lackluster from the starting gate, has turned into a nightmare with the revelations pouring out at his trial and the government trying their best to prevent the prosecution from proceeding. The SAPS has become highly dysfunctional at all levels what with corruption, incompetence, rigging of statistics and now, as a final moment of utter disbelief, the minister’s wife being prosecuted for drug dealing.  Maybe she was carrying on in the good old tradition of what went before.

I am aware of 5 000 specimens which have not been analyzed in Cape Town due to hideous inefficiency at the state labs.  There is now talk of discarding these samples.  So if you poisoned your wife, lover, husband during this time you are in luck.  The law may never catch up with you because they are thinking of throwing out all the evidence.

All of this is squarely to be laid at the door of the racist policies of the ANC government.

It is high time that the government started implementing policies that are for the benefit of the people of this country and not just for the benefit of the Stalinist moguls who control the party.

Appoint people on the basis of ability and skills.  Forget about quotas and instant demographic fixes.  Stop the influx across our borders.

The explosion of squatter camps is wreaking havoc.  The water supplies and social services cannot cope.  The fecal contamination of the water courses in Cape Town and elsewhere have reached red danger levels.  Cholera is indiscriminate in who it kills.

Recently, it was reported in the December 2009 Cape Argus that the residents of an informal settlement in Hout Bay were not prepared to use portable toilets provided at some expense by the town council as the claimed that they didn’t like them as they “were not part of their culture”.  Nice thinking.

While all this is happening, Zuma is preoccupied with yet another wife and Tokyo and the other ministers squander the country’s precious resources on bling.

Not only is Zuma involved with another wife, he is sleeping around in a display of exuberant fecundity that is a national embarrassment.

There is not a statesman to be seen in South Africa at the moment with the single exception of Helen Zille - the one person in power who runs a clean ship, who is frugal with the taxpayers’ money and who delivers.  It is not for nothing that she was judged the top mayor in the world.

It is also no accident that the Western Cape stands as a beacon of hope in an otherwise somber political scene.



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Dr David Klatzow                        Forensic Scientist