New KZN premier defends former Health MEC over oncology crisis

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KwaZulu-Natal (KZN) premier-elect Sihle Zikalala has defended former KZN Health MEC Sibongiseni Dhlomo over the oncology crisis that claimed many lives in the province. The Star reports that he was reacting to comment from the Democratic Alliance (DA) in KZN, which said it was seeking legal advice to pursue Dhlomo on the matter. Dhlomo has since left the province to become an ANC MP.

According to the report, DA MPL Imran Keeka, who had for years been at loggerheads with Dhlomo over the severe shortage of oncologists and oncology machines at provincial hospitals, said Dhlomo’s departure to the national Parliament did not mean he was off the hook. “As far as MEC Dhlomo goes, I am not satisfied that there was enough accountability. The ANC has done the unthinkable. Instead of sending him to jail, they sent him to Parliament despite the fact that 530 people died under his watch during the oncology crisis,” said Keeka.

Keeka said under Dhlomo’s administration, the health system in the province also suffered a pathology crisis in emergency health care. But Zikalala defended Dhlomo and accused the DA of political grandstanding. He said there was “no way” that the MEC could be charged because he had already been held accountable by the South African Human Rights Commission, which was satisfied with how he worked to address the problem.

Zikalala said in the report that initiatives to address the oncology crisis were continuing. “The problem is being addressed and I think Dr Dhlomo tried because we have added four additional machines. One is in Chief Albert Luthuli (hospital in Durban) and others are in different parts of the province.”

The Star report (subscription needed)

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