Almost R2bn spent to fight Covid-19 in KZN: premier

13 August 2020 - 18:27 By Zimasa Matiwane
Over 20 health facilities across KZN have seen alterations made to existing wards to create isolation and quarantine centres for Covid-19.
Over 20 health facilities across KZN have seen alterations made to existing wards to create isolation and quarantine centres for Covid-19.
Image: 123RF/Dario Lo Presti

Of the close to R1.9bn given to KwaZulu-Natal departments for Covid-19 expenditure, over half has been spent on infrastructure.

This was revealed by premier Sihle Zikalala during a briefing on Thursday on expenditure by provincial departments in response to the pandemic.

He said infrastructure projects had been undertaken at schools and hospitals, including the establishment of quarantine facilities, since March. 

The most expensive infrastructure project was the alterations and additions to seven wards at Clairwood Hospital - including refurbishment roofing, windows, sewer and plumbing - at a cost of R312m to the health department.

Clairwood is one of over 20 health facilities across the province that have been refurbished and where alterations have been made to existing wards to create isolation and quarantine centres. 

GJ Crookes Hospital on the south coast also underwent alternations, which included additions to existing wards as well as roofing and plumbing adjustments, to the tune of R165m.

One of the cheapest projects was the conversion of the Royal Show Grounds into a Covid-19 quarantine and isolation centre with 254 beds and ablution blocks, at R11m.

Some of the R1.4bn health budget was spent on personal protective equipment (PPE), including isolation gowns, visors, various types of masks, gloves and coveralls. 

The department of education spent R487m, the biggest once-off expenditure being R88.5m for 610,000 litres of hand sanitiser. The money was also spent on the procurement of hand pump dispensers, visors, non-contact thermometers and liquid soap. 

The department also spent over R1m on storage, decanting, transportation, labelling and distribution of donated sanitiser.

The third biggest-spending department was social development. The bulk of its expenditure of R54m went to its controversial blanket tender, where four companies scored R22m for providing 48,000 blankets.

Some of the money went to catering for the homeless, catering for SA Social Security Agency (Sassa) grant recipients, deep-cleaning and sanitisation, sanitiser and soap. 

The province’s expenditure of R1.9bn for the period of March to July can be broken down as follows:

  • infrastructure - 57%;
  • sanitisers - 18.18%;
  • masks - 9.85%;
  • dispensers - 3.7%;
  • thermometers - 3.18%;
  • PPE - 3.06%;
  • gloves - 2.17%; and
  • blankets - 1.12%.

Other costs were for catering, cleaning, blankets, electronics, groceries, storage, advertisements, biohazard material, security and couriers. 

The least-spending departments were:

  • sports at R660,060;
  • Treasury at R898,692; and
  • community safety at R775,277.

Zikalala said the infrastructure investments in schools and hospitals will benefit communities post Covid-19. 

He said should any wrongdoing emerge in the transactions, there will be consequences through disciplinary procedures and, where justified, criminal prosecution. 

He also promised lifestyle audits of the executive, heads of departments and supply chain management officials.

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