EDITORIAL COMMENT: Border execs finger health minister for Port Health issue

Feature by Eugene Goddard - Freight News

Border execs finger health minister for Port Health issue

“The buck stops here” – that's how a familiar saying goes about executive intervention, including when it comes to effective resolution-seeking and decision-making on the part of ministers.

But what if the executive in question does nothing with the “buck”, which, in this case, is the weeks-long operational disruption at certain land borders that have been intermittently shut down because of the Department of Health (DoH) not being able to pay to bring in outsourced Port Health officials?

What if that leader just seems to ignore the “buck”, for whatever reason? Perhaps in the hope that it will just go away, or perhaps because the acting health minister, Mmamoloko Kubayi-Ngubane, is in over her head with Covid-19-related crunch-time matters.

In the latest update on the Port Health issue, which has resulted in ongoing border closures, Freight News has been told by a reliable source that the DoH has known about the border issue for at least three weeks, but has done nothing about it.

According to the source, this was confirmed by both Gene Ravele and Stephen van Neel, respectively the acting commissioner for the Border Management Authority and the Department of Home Affairs director for ports of entry.

The source said: “They told me that they brought this matter to the attention of the [acting] health minister at least three weeks ago, but she has done nothing about it.”

Of course, in fairness to Kubayi-Ngubane, barely had she taken over from health minister Zweli Mkhize, placed on special leave because of the Digital Vibes scandal, than she had to deal with irate over-border traders on top of all the demands of her two portfolios (tourism and health).

As if a shambolic vaccination drive, the fight against Covid-19 and crisis-managing a corruption-dogged health department isn’t bad enough.

Maybe she should take some forced leave too, and allow private sector interests to fill the void – if you can call it a void when incompetence is removed – by chipping in money to pay for Port Health officials to do the necessary Covid-19 screening at the country’s borders.

That recommendation, by the way, has been made – but for some bizarre reason, the DoH turned it down.

It’s easier, it seems, to simply close our borders while truck drivers spend precious time waiting in their cabins while, in many respects, perishable and time-sensitive cargo goes to waste.

Honourable Minister Kubayi-Ngubane – if it’s too hot in the kitchen, please leave!

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