Growing storm over KZN health boss Zungu

2015-04-02 15:21
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 (Nehawu) has for the past year threatened to bring the KwaZulu-Natal provincial health department to a standstill if the province's Premier Senzo Mchunu reappointed Sibongile Zungu as department head.

A provincial executive council memorandum reveals that Zungu was almost a dead certainty to fill the position of Head of Department for a second five-year term had it not been for the union's objections and allegations it had levelled at Zungu.

It is these allegations, as well as concerns by the Auditor-General over the growing number of civil claims being brought against the department, that resulted in Mchunu establishing an inquiry headed up by Professor Fikile Ndaki and assisted by lawyer Mimie Memka.

Attached to the memorandum, a copy of which is in News24's possession, is a document entitled "Consolidated List of Nehawu Allegations Against HOD Health".

According to this document some of the allegations date from 2010 from "correspondence handed to the premier on October 7 2010 in which various allegations of impropriety are made against the current HoD for the Department of Health".

At that time Zweli Mkhize, the current treasurer of the ANC, was premier of the province.

The outcome of Ndaki's investigations are unknown, but these are the allegations made against her by Nehawu:

  • Excessive cellphone expenditure;
  • Senior positions in the department are filled in an acting capacity for excessive time.
  • Family, friends and acquaintances are appointed at the expense of better qualified personnel. The Nehawu document refers to a Mr Zungu whom the union claims is allegedly a relative and was appointed as a project manager. The document also refers to "the appointment of the technical advisor to the CFO[chief financial officer], Mr [Ahmed] Essa who is paid an excessive salary, allegedly R5 million per year."
  • Zungu is accused of firing personnel and interfering in tender processes to ensure that companies linked to her benefit. According to the allegations in the document, in one of the cases a security manager was suspended because he failed to ensure that a tender was awarded to a security company that was linked to her late husband. In another instance the union claims that she awarded tenders to friends and relatives for the Durban Children's Hospital.
  • It accused her of cancelling without any valid reason a maintenance contract for two state-of-the art R120m cancer radiotherapy machines at Durban's Addington Hospital. It does not detail what those irregularities are.
  • A manager, simply named as a "Mr Chimanzi" was, according to the document, suspended because he refused to pay a company, the services of which he believed had been procured in an irregular manner.
  • The union questions the awarding of a tender to waste management company Compass Waste.
  • The union claims that Zungu uses and authorises "the excessive use of bodyguards for her protection" as well as for the protection of the department's manager for risk management and the manager responsible for investigations.
  • It alleges that the former chief financial officer Mashaka Enos Ravhura was paid above the scale of what a chief financial officer is entitled to be paid.
  • Zungu is also accused by the union of using private lawyers for disciplinary processes when in terms of the collective agreement between the unions and the department there is no requirement for the lawyers, whom they say are claiming more than they should be.
  • The union accuses Zungu of failing to fill vacant posts in the department.
  • The union alleges that the district health services in the province have collapsed and that in the Amajuba (Newcastle area) Health District all that district's institutions had no chief executive officers. The union went on further to claim that Newcastle Hospital was being managed by a deputy nursing manager and a finance manager.
  • After the enquiry into the allegations was established the department released a brief statement that simply read: " The department did receive confirmation last year that there was an enquiry into the allegations raised by Nehawu. The department has previously responded to the allegations on several occasions. The department welcomes the enquiry, so that the matter can finally be put to rest."

    Asked about the allegations and whether she wanted to respond, Zungu said that as the allegations stemmed from Nehawu and were being investigated. Until those investigations had been completed, she could not comment. She referred all further inquiries to the office of the premier. 

Read more on:    department of health  |  sibongile zungu  |  senzo mchunu  |  kzn  |  health  |  local government

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