North West premier was hospitalised in Gauteng to be closer to his children, MPs told
North West premier Prof Job Mokgoro has shot down speculation that he sought medical treatment in another province due to the substandard condition of hospitals in the province he leads.
Mokgoro tested positive for Covid-19 last month and was treated at a Johannesburg hospital.
He said he was hospitalised in Gauteng because his children work there and had pleaded with him to be closer to them.
Mokgoro, who was leading his provincial government in an appearance before the National Assembly's co-operative governance portfolio committee on Wednesday to talk about the province's response to Covid-19, was put on the spot by EFF MP Hlengiwe Mkhaliphi.
“When the news broke that the premier tested positive, it was reported in the news that you were hospitalised outside your province. Is that true?” she asked.
Mkhaliphi said as the head of the province, and as someone ultimately responsible for making sure there is proper infrastructure in the health sector, Mokgoro was supposed to lead by example and use the province's services.
“I would like to get the reason why the premier went to get help outside the province,” she said.
Mokgoro said while he would be productive during the day and do his work as premier, he would feel like cold was getting to his bones every night as he prepared for bed.
He then saw a doctor in Mahikeng who referred him to a hospital in the same city. He said he was also referred for testing in Mahikeng and had an X-ray there.
But then three doctors came together and told him that they were referring him to a private hospital in Klerksdorp.
“If I were to take the argument of honourable Mkhaliphi to its logical conclusion, I should not even have gone to a private hospital,” he quipped.
He said he had been placed in an ambulance and put on a drip.
“Inevitably all my kids who work in Johannesburg heard about this attack, which we are all so scared of and they pleaded and pleaded and said why doesn't our dad come nearer to where we are so that we can be able to ...
“I said whatever!”
Mokgoro said on that basis, the doctors made an effort to look for a hospital so that not only his health was attended to but, on a psychological level, his family was also content that at least their father was closer to them.
Hospital visits are not allowed for Covid-19 patients.
“Maybe I should have done better than that, to show that I'm committed to my province,” he said.
At the time of Mokgoro's hospitalisation, the DA said the decision to seek medical treatment in another province highlighted that the North West was by no means ready to deal with the anticipated surge of Covid-19 patients.
“This demonstrates a lack of confidence in provincial facilities, which hardly instils hope to people who have no option but to make use of North West health facilities.
“Again, it goes to show that government officials and political leaders abuse their positions to secure the best quality of services while ordinary citizens have to contend with poor and substandard services,” said the party.
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