In November 2013 the Stop Stockouts Project (SSP – of which the TAC is a member) published a report into stockouts of essential medicines at healthcare facilities across the country. The report found that the Free State was the hardest hit of all nine provinces. Then in May 2014 the TAC conducted a fact-finding mission in the Free State. We found not only shortages of medicines, but also of various other medical supplies like surgical gloves. Some facilities lacked clean water and in others TB patients had no blankets. We also started working with community healthcare workers who had been dismissed by the provincial department of health.
The TAC intensified its campaign in the Free State and started a series of peaceful night vigils. During one of these peaceful night vigils 130 CHWs and TAC members were arrested and detained for 36 hours.
While our primary focus is on bringing an end to the health crisis in the Free State, the situation has become highly politicised. The MEC for Health Benny Malakoane has refused to engage with the TAC and has consistently denied the extent of the problems in the province. He is also currently facing multiple charges of fraud and corruption. The finances of his department has been taken over by the provincial treasury. Because of this the TAC has called for his suspension. The TAC has engaged with national ANC leadership on the issue.