KZN premier says no reasons to fire health MEC

2017-06-22 18:42
Sibongiseni Dhlomo (Picture: The Witness)

Sibongiseni Dhlomo (Picture: The Witness)

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Durban – Despite the current health crisis facing KwaZulu-Natal, Premier Willis Mchunu said he does not see why MEC for Health Sibongiseni Dhlomo should be fired.

“I have viewed the calls for his firing seriously. My assessment does not indicate you have to fire the MEC,” he said at a press briefing at the KZN legislature on Thursday.

According to Mchunu there was no “dereliction of duty” on the part of the MEC.

“I have not established that. I don’t think fair. There have been interventions.”

Opposition parties laid into Dhlomo on Wednesday as he explained why there was no oncologist in KZN. He was also responding to a damning report by the South African Human Rights Commission which found that the department failed its cancer patients.

The 68-page SAHRC report found that "the delays in the provision of‚ and in some cases the denial of‚ oncology services to cancer patients‚ some of whom are destitute and in need of health care‚ affects them in a most fundamental way”.

Dhlomo said that poor human resources and supply chain management largely contributed to the crisis. The province was left with no oncologists and gaps in upper management this year.

Cannot fill key posts

According to Dhlomo, the filling of key posts in the health sector was a challenge.

“The non-filling of posts has unintended consequences like low staff morale and increasing medical legal litigations.”

He said this was because mistakes happened with low staff numbers.

He added that the department’s chief financial officer had been in his acting post since 2014.

“No individual can firmly advise if not in full employment. This post has been re-advertised beginning of June. This situation has had its own challenges.”

Dhlomo said the instability in the financial wing of the department had resulted in poor delivery supply chain management services.

“A decision to centralise some key strategic functions has resulted in serious delegations taken away from health facilities.”

Why didn’t the department act sooner?

When asked why government did not act on the health crisis sooner, Dhlomo blamed Tecmed, a company that provided the department with medical machinery.

He said the company indicated it would maintain equipment for free after they were sold. Dhlomo says this was not the case, leaving the department having to “pay the company twice”.

MEC for Finance Belinda Scott indicated that she has been working with the department of health on turnaround plans.

She said her department was currently conducting a “full blown investigation” into the inefficiencies.

“We cannot just go in without a full scope. We have allocated senior personnel to assist. The interventions will ensure we turn this around.”

Read more on:    pietermaritzburg  |  politics

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