When gospel star Sfiso Ncwane died two months ago, President Jacob Zuma sent his condolences the very same day. When jazz legend Thandi Klaasen died, Zuma spoke of the "tragic loss to the nation" the very day she died. And when Lundi Tyamara died last Friday, Zuma again sent his condolences on the same day. On Wednesday, health ombudsman Malegapuru Makgoba laid the blame for the deaths of 94 mentally ill patients who were in the care of the state, squarely on the shoulders of health MEC at the time Qedani Mahlangu, Dr. Tiego Selebano, head of department, and director Dr. Makgabo Manamela. But we still haven't heard from our head of state.
Makgoba's report says Mahlangu's fingerprints "were peppered" throughout the project and family members of the deceased say she "lied and lied" and displayed "arrogance" and "attitude" when they voiced their concerns. Some patients were reportedly neglected to such a degree that they died of cold, dehydration or not receiving their medication. A reading of the report highlights the deep levels of wrongdoing that resulted in 94 avoidable deaths.
Mahlangu resigned the night before Makgoba's report was released (this, after blocking the release of the report so that she'd have more time to study it) and Gauteng premier David Makhura is doing damage control. But where is the comment from the president? How do 94 people -- and counting, as Makgoba points out -- die following a highly contested, deeply flawed and in the end catastrophic state decision to cut costs (as opposed to improve healthcare) without some sort of national response?
President Zuma, we're waiting.