There is growing discomfort with the figures and reporting of the Mpumalanga Health Department regarding the COVID-19 crises between concerned residents and journalists alike.
Political parties have been expressing their concerns for a long time but there is no improvement from the Mpumalanga Health Department.
Calls for clearer indications on the COVID-19 figures has been falling on deaf ears and are ignored.
The Department of Health placed information on their platforms informing everyone that there are two cases (of which one recovered) in Govan Mbeki Municipality, only to remove all the information this morning and to replace it with info that points to one infection only.
Democratic Allaince (DA) Provincial Leader Jane Sithole has submitted a PAIA form (Promotion of Access to Information Act) to force the Mpumalanga department of health to release correct daily statistics of Covid-19.
For the last few weeks, Mpumalanga health MEC Sasekani Manzini and her department have been publishing false, inaccurate or incomplete data of Covid-19 cases to the media and on their Facebook page. This caused confusion and panic amongst the people of Mpumalanga. Some went as far as lambasting the department on social media pages.
On April 2, Manzini reported that Mpumalanga had 14 positive cases of Covid-19, while later that day national reported that the province had only 12 confirmed positive cases. After seeing her mistake, Manzini immediately removed her misleading infographic that she had put up on the department’s Facebook page. On the same infographic, column seven, the MEC had indicated that Mpumalanga had zero positive cases of Covid-19.
This is incompetence at its best and distribution of fake news.
On 6 April, Manzini published that Mpumalanga had 21 positive cases of Covid-19. Four days later on April 10 Manzini reverted back and published that the province had 20 positive cases of Covid-19.
Just recently on April 30, Manzini published that Mpumalanga had 36 confirmed positive cases of Covid-19. But on May 1 she published that the positive cases were actually 35. Why is the MEC confusing the public? Why is she creating unnecessary panic among residents?
Based on the above disinformation, this week the DA submitted the PAIA form “requesting that very detailed Covid-19 statistics to be released daily by the Mpumalanga Department of Health.”
The DA has tried on several occasions to engage MEC Manzini, but her arrogance stands in the way of working with us all in the fight against this pandemic. She has made this about herself and she must be stopped before she endangers more lives with her ego and ignorance.
Mpumalanga is the only province where Covid-19 stats are fluctuating. While the numbers of positive cases of Covid-19 keep fluctuating back and forth, the people of Mpumalanga are worried about these inconsistencies and they are looking for answers. The DA has also written to Premier Refilwe Mtsheni-Tsipane early last month complaining about the inaccuracies; but she has not yet responded.
The DA is also concerned that Mpumalanga is also the only province where the Covid-19 Provincial Central Command does not include opposition parties represented in the legislature.
They have failed to learn from the national health minister, Dr Zweli Mkhize, who has gone out of his way to work with all stakeholders and opposition parties in the fight against this pandemic.
Mpumalanga has also not convened a virtual health portfolio committee meeting to report to members about Covid-19. We are also the only province that doesn’t publish the number of people that have been tested on a regular basis.
“What are they hiding?” Jane asked
The DA will always put the people of Mpumalanga first and will not stop holding irresponsible executives to account. We will continue to do this without any fear or favour.
By May 5, Mpumalanga had reported 53 positive cases of Covid-19 with 22 recoveries. Yet, once again, the figures on the official table of positive statistics did not correspond with the figures on the map. Another confusion.