State mum on KZN health head allegations but ‘is investigating’

2015-01-08 07:29

Allegations of mismanagement and corruption levelled against the embattled head of the KwaZulu-Natal health department Dr Sibongile Zungu are being investigated, a provincial government spokesperson has confirmed.

Thami Ngwenya, the head of provincial government communications, said yesterday that the investigation was aimed “to get clarity on what [the] allegations are”.

The National Education Health and Allied Workers Union (Nehawu) has repeatedly called for her to be sacked and at a press conference on December 4 threatened to bring the department to a standstill.

Ngwenya did not say what the allegations were, but Nehawu have repeatedly blamed her for alleged wasteful expenditure, maladministration and corruption under her leadership.

Ngwenya said: “The inquiry should not deteriorate into trial of Dr Zungu via the media. For now we ask everybody to allow the process to proceed in a fair and just manner.”

He said the outcome of the inquiry, headed by Professor Fikile Ndaki and assisted by Mimie Memka, would be made public.

It is understood that the inquiry had already been set up late last year.

Zungu was appointed head of the department in August 2009 and her contract ended last August. A replacement has yet to be found and Zungu’s contract has been renewed on a monthly basis.

Zungu incurred the wrath of Nehawu when it emerged that she had racked up a R310 662 cellphone bill while she was abroad last April.

The union’s provincial chairperson Thobile Nkosi was quoted by the Daily News last year as saying that Zungu was “interfering” with procurement processes and claimed the department’s chief financial officer, Mashaka Ravhura, was suspended because he refused to approve unlawful and corrupt activities, including the suspension of the supply chain manager, Andile Zondo.

Ravhura and Zondo were suspended late last year after allegations of corruption surfaced.

To date, neither has returned to work and the outcome of investigations into the allegations against them has never been revealed.

Comment could not immediately be obtained from the health department.

Nehawu provincial secretary Phakama Ndunakazi said yesterday that the union and the inquiry had met earlier on the day and had “agreed on the processes to be followed”.

He said the inquiry was expected to have completed its work by the end of February.

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