Gauteng hospital CEO buys ‘vanity furniture’ instead of equipment

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“Vanity” furniture worth purchased by a Gauteng hospital CEO, who was appointed despite facing serious disciplinary charges for fraud, has highlighted the “stench” of the provincial health system, reports Mail & Guardian.

Dr Zacharia Mathaba, the CEO at Ekurhuleni’s Far East Rand hospital, was appointed to his current position in November last year, after having transferred from Thelle Mogoerane Hospital, which is in the same metro.

M&G reports that this is according to official provincial human resources documents showing how Mathaba’s appointment as CEO happened despite an uproar from unions, after it emerged that he claimed overtime for work he allegedly did not do. Following this a disciplinary hearing had begun in January 2019.

Meanwhile, M&G reports that it has seen invoices and delivery notes for Far East Rand hospital, which purchased more than 20 luxury office-furniture items, including leather couches and chairs, an R8,280 “dynasty desk”, a R16,675 wall unit and wooden coat and hat hangers, among other items. The delivery note for the furniture is dated 30 September 2020.

The report says these R379,000  in purchases drew the ire of hospital staff, who alleged that Mathaba bought “vanity furniture”, despite the facility lacking critical equipment, and possessing dilapidated wheelchairs, stretchers and hospital beds.

DA Gauteng legislature health committee member Jack Bloom, who asked the question that showed Mathaba was hired despite facing serious charges, said the CEO’s appointment was “a microcosm of the stench of the provincial health system”.

A statement released by Jack Bloom, MPL DA Gauteng Shadow MEC for Health said:

Concerns have been raised about “vanity” furniture worth R379 000 bought by the CEO of the Far East Rand Hospital, Dr Zachariah Mathaba, who was appointed last year despite facing charges of gross dishonesty for alleged fraudulent commuted overtime.

It has now emerged that a Public Service Commission report in 2019 directed the Gauteng MEC for Health to approach the Labour Court to set aside his previous irregular appointment as a Medical Officer at the Thelle Mogoerane Hospital, and also wrongful payment of commuted overtime to him.

This is revealed by acting health MEC Dr Jacob Mamabolo in a written reply to my questions in the Gauteng Legislature.

Mathaba was appointed as the CEO of Far East Rand Hospital in November last year despite being charged on 7 January 2019 for “gross dishonesty in that he applied for commuted/fixed overtime from 1 September 2017 to 31 March 2018, and 1 April 2018 to 31 March 2019 and did not fulfil his commuted overtime contractual obligation.” This occurred when he was a doctor at the Thelle Mogoerane Hospital.

According to Mamabolo: “The department couldn’t precautionary suspend Dr Z Mathaba because at the time he was appointed at Far East Rand Hospital and couldn’t have interfered with the process of implementing the recommendations of the PSC report related to allegation that took place whilst he was at Thelle Mogoerane hospital, moreover the investigation was already completed. The precautionary measure would have been in contravention with the 7.2 of the PSCBC Resolution 1 of 2003 and the SMS handbook.”

Mamabolo adds that the State Attorney has been instructed to give effect to the PSC’s directive but has yet to apply for a court hearing for the application. Furthermore, an Investigation Officer has been appointed for the disciplinary action against Mathaba and a presiding officer will be appointed for this as well.

This case highlights the department’s poor selection and disciplinary procedures. Mathaba should never have been appointed as the hospital CEO while facing such serious charges, and his disciplinary case should not be dragging on for so long.

This matter should be resolved as soon as possible, with possible additional charges concerning alleged abuses in his CEO position as well.

 

Full Mail & Guardian report

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