Up for challenging in-basket

A veteran ANC cadre and a medical practitioner, former health MEC Dr Phumza Dyantyi has been moved to social development. Fast-approaching 70 years of age, Dyantyi takes over a department facing a mountain of challenges.

PD: I cannot be happy. Remember I am from a R23-billion department and I am now here in a R2.8-billion department. However as we do one-on-one meetings with different managers we will be sharing what their frustrations are with the budget. The budget is too little and we have always complained to say this department deserves to get more so it could do more but we have to do with the little we have. The annual allocation of the department should be R5-billion.

ZM: In essence you mean the mandate of the department is larger than the money it gets. How do you think this can be addressed?

PD: It would mean a lot if you were to shift some of the responsibilities to other departments such as health which can take on frailcare services which require a lot of the money we don’t have as well as education taking over the ECDs which are not at the standard they should be. Either that or give social development more money to focus on its core mandates.

ZM: On a much lighter note, you are a qualified doctor. Did you not fit better in health than where you are now?

PD: You are putting me in a corner, you should be asking that to (ANC provincial secretary Lulama) Ngcukayitobi. With my background I fit even here but honestly speaking I was comfortable with health because that is what I have lived all my life.

ZM: You have about 12 months to make a difference. Can you do it in this time?

PD: Well ... I will try my best but remember I am not starting afresh. There is a turnaround strategy already in place in the department so we will take it from there and see where it takes us. We can tweak it here and there.

ZM: This administration is drawing to a close and we have elections next year. Are you still fit to avail yourself for public office after the elections?

PD: No ... I am old I must go and retire peacefully. I am going to be 70 soon and although I am physically fit enough to continue working, one must look after themselves and know when to call it quits.

ZM: What is your take on the generational parity and the ANC government’s conservative stance of political principals who are way past the official working age of 65?

PD: We have too many old people who are in public service and political office in particular. South Africa should look at the young people so that the country is run by young blood which must however be polished first so that they do not mess things up. — zingisam@dispatch.co.za

This is the first in a series of interviews with the new Bhisho executive