Union demands forensic audit on former KZN health head

2015-04-09 20:34
Sibongile Zungu (KwaZulu-Natal Department of Health)

Sibongile Zungu (KwaZulu-Natal Department of Health)

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Durban - The National Education Health and Allied Workers Union demanded on Thursday that the embattled former head of the KwaZulu-Natal health department be subjected to a forensic audit.

Nehawu’s call follows last week’s announcement by the office of KwaZulu-Natal Premier Senzo Mchunu that it would not be renewing Dr Sibongile Zungu’s contract as head of the provincial health department.

The premier’s decision followed an inquiry into allegations levelled by Nehawu against Zungu and a preliminary report that was presented to him by the head of the inquiry, Professor Fikile Ndaki.

Speaking at a press conference on Thursday, Nehawu deputy secretary Zola Saphetha said: “It is a report that established the authenticity of the allegations brought by Nehawu against Zungu. Based on this report we are calling for a forensic audit.”

Saphetha said the union had a copy of Ndaki’s preliminary report and the union would start discussing it with its members as from tomorrow.

Zungu has challenged her dismissal and interdicted the premier as well as health MEC Sibongiseni Dhlomo from revealing the contents of the report.

“If you are so clean, why are you interdicting the premier and the MEC?” asked Saphetha, adding that the union had not been interdicted from releasing the contents of the report to its members.

The union’s provincial secretary Phakama Ndunakazi accused Zungu of “running the institution like her farm”.

Speaking at the same press conference, he said: “There is no witch hunt against Dr Zungu, but she has spectacularly failed the people of the province and has mismanaged the department. She has flouted regulations and has wasted money on consultants while rural communities struggle with ambulances and other basic amenities.”

Liability claims

Ndunakazi said that the report had revealed that the department faced liability claims in excess of R4bn and that the department was incurring exorbitant legal fees by using external lawyers to undertake disciplinary processes against staff.

He said Ndaki’s inquiry had found that there “was a factual basis for most of the allegations” and that under Zungu’s management had failed to control irregular expenditure.

Saphetha said that he had been informed by Nehawu members that Zungu was still working, despite her contract not being renewed.

“We were told by our members that the former HOD is still at work. And we are also told that Ndoda Biyela is still there.”

Last month, it emerged that Zungu had appointed Biyela as the chief financial officer of the health department at the beginning of February. Biyela’s appointment caused an outcry because last August he had been suspended from the Gauteng's health department because of irregularities related to a tender for linen. He resigned from that department after reaching a settlement.

However, last week Dhlomo said at a press conference that Biyela had been illegally appointed as he had been transferred from a department for which he also no longer worked.

Dhlomo said he had also not been consulted over Biyela’s appointment.

Labour Court

Saphetha said: “If we find them at this building, we will ask our members to leave the building.”

The head office of the health department is in the Natalia building in Pietermaritzburg.

Zungu was appointed on a five year contract that ended last August. She was then appointed on a monthly basis following applications for the position and she was set to be re-appointed for a further five years, when Mchunu delayed her appointment pending the outcome of the Ndaki inquiry.

Her legal challenge to her contract not being renewed is set to be heard in the Durban Labour Court later this month.

Dr Zungu declined to talk to News 24. "I wouldn't want to talk at this point," she said over the phone without elaborating further.

Read more on:    nehawu  |  senzo mchunu  |  sibongile zungu  |  durban  |  labour  |  health

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