KZN health officials suspended

2009-09-08 19:06

Pietermaritzburg - Three senior managers in the KwaZulu-Natal health department have been suspended, MEC Sibongiseni Dhlomo said on Tuesday.

The suspension came after Dhlomo and Finance MEC Ina Cronje announced a rescue plan aimed at ridding the department of financial problems resulting in an over-expenditure of R2bn in the past year.

Finance committee members have cautioned government against suspending officials without having sufficient evidence that results in quick dismissal, saying the move sends the wrong signal about government effectiveness.

Full pay, full benefits

Although the officials have not been charged, Dhlomo indicated that the suspensions were a precautionary measure and they would be on full pay enjoying full benefits.

It has been rumoured that the officials, whose names have been withheld, could be from the supply chain management division which has been identified as one of the loopholes in the operations of the department.

Meanwhile, senior ANC member Sipho Gcabashe accused government of having a poor record when it comes to prosecuting suspected officials, with cases dragging on for years while officials enjoy full benefits while doing nothing.

Watertight cases

He called for the department to have watertight cases before suspending officials.

"It's nice to make announcements [of suspensions of officials] but the end result in the past has not been what we expect," said Gcabashe.

Dhlomo was at pains to admit that government was sometimes slow in winding up cases. However he expressed optimism that the investigation against the officials would be swift.

"We can't have very senior managers... at home and have them not doing any work. It will be complete in less than three months," Dhlomo assured finance committee members.