South Africa: Here's What Was - and Is - Needed to Clean Up the North West Health Department


In 2018, protests over alleged corruption in the North West health department literally set the province on fire. The Cabinet eventually put six departments under administration. Here's an inside look from the woman tasked with cleaning house at the provincial health department.

In April 2018, protests broke out in North West province. The media carried images of burning tyres and barricaded hospital entrances. Health facility staff were prevented from getting to clinics and hospitals. Patients were turned away from clinics, many of which were running short of essential medicines.

The province had reached a boiling point.

Government workers, including healthcare workers, through the National Education, Health and Allied Workers' Union (Nehawu), had delivered a list of demands to the provincial government. Most, but not all, related to the running of the provincial health department. The letter included calls for better human resource and supply chain management and the suspension of the then head of department, Thabo Lekalakala. But management and the unions did not come to an agreement.

Some workers embarked on strike action, with community members joining them in barricading streets and health facility entrances. The striking workers harassed and obstructed those workers who chose to continue to work....

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