The head of KwaZulu-Natal’s Health Department Dr Sifiso Mtshali has resigned after being suspended by the premier Willies Mchunu, pending an investigation into the irregular and illegal repair of oncology machines at the Addington Hospital in Durban.
New24 reports that according to Mchunu, he had been in ongoing consultations with the provincial executive, including Health MEC Dr Sibongiseni Dhlomo and Finance MEC Belinda Scott. “Dr Mtshali has not admitted the allegations against him, but offered to resign if provincial government had lost confidence in him,” Mchunu said. “It was alleged that the appointment of KZN Oncology to repair oncology machines at Addington Hospital was irregular and illegal. The allegations had attracted widespread publicity and considerable negative press and public criticism,” Mchunu said.
“Legal action has been taken by the Department of Health to set aside the agreement concluded with KZN Oncology, and to reclaim funds already paid,” he said.
“Among the issues considered by us were the issue of repairs to oncology machines and the appointment of KZN Oncology to do so,” he said.
“As the executive authority responsible for heads of department, I felt it would be prudent to accept the resignation, given the seriousness of the allegations, as well as to avoid further legal and forensic costs being incurred, and to bring finality to the issue,” he said.
The Democratic Alliance (DA) in KZN has welcomed Mtshali’s resignation but further called for the removal of province’s MEC for Health (Dlomo), reports The Citizen.
DA provincial health spokesperson Dr Imran Keeka said that Mchunu’s announcement came as no surprise. “It was expected that he would have been fired anyway. The premier’s remarks suggest that he has done so in the best interest of the province. While this may be the case, the premier has shown no political leadership in holding the bigger culprit, (Health) MEC (Dr Sibongiseni) Dhlomo, to account,” Keeka said.
“For as long as he sits on his hands and does not fire the failed MEC, he must not expect KZN health to turn around. The diseased department has seen HODs, CEOs and other senior staff come and go but MEC Dhlomo sits there and continues to ruin KZN health.”
Keeka said that Mchunu should understand that the department now has, at the helm, an MEC that has lost control of the department, an acting HOD and an acting chief financial officer. “If this is not a recipe for further disaster, then what is? He needs to act urgently,” Keeka said.
“First he needs to fire the MEC and ensure that the acting posts are filled on a full-time basis. The people of KZN deserve better leadership and must punish the premier and his government for the suffering in our healthcare facilities.”