New military hospital – for VIPs

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The Department of Public Works is to construct an “executive military health facility” that will service the president, Cabinet, and “VIPs” from outside countries. The Estimates of National Expenditure, released by the National Treasury last week shows work began last moth.

The total cost of the project is R62 million, with an allocation of R13 million for the year from April. The work, at the Bryntirion estate, first built in 1903, forms part of a further upgrade of the state facility, that will cost R191 million. “The project entails the upgrading of infrastructure such as bulk water, electrical services and roads. This prestige estate provides residential houses for cabinet members including the president,” the ENE adds.

VIPs and the Presidency have until now relied on a special wing of the run-down 1 Military Hospital at Thaba Tswane for medical support.

Offices will also be constructed over in the 20 months after May at a total cost of R103 million to
accommodate South African Police Service security personnel who provide security to Bryntirion estate residents. R27 million has been allocated for the project n the upcoming year.

Independent Democrats Parliamentary leader Joe Mcgluwa says the upgrade project was taking place when South Africa was “lagging behind in terms of the quality of service delivery, especially in the Eastern Cape where up to 130 children per teacher are allocated in inhuman conditions”.

Democratic Alliance Parliamentary leader Athol Trollip said the spending made a mockery of President Jacob Zuma’s intention to foster “a culture of greater prudence and less extravagance… and delivering more and better services with less resources”.

The Congress of SA Trade Unions (Cosatu) has also questioned the Presidency’s confidence in the planned National Health Insurance (NHI), saying there should be no need to build a special health facility at Bryntirion. “With health moving towards the NHI in order to bring public health services up to standard, we would be expecting their confidence in the existing public health system and not creating elite health services which will benefit only a small number of people,” said Cosatu spokesman Patrick Craven.

Update: Government spokesman Jimmy Manyi on Thursday said the Presidential Medical Unit (PMU) has been operating from the Presidential Estate since 1998 to provide medical support to the President, Deputy President as well as former Presidents and Deputy Presidents and foreign dignitaries.

The unit had been housed in a caravan ever since and in 2006 and the hospital follows from a decision “to refurbish the facility to ensure that it complied with primary health care standards.”



Pic: A Google image of an entrance to Bryntirion