Health ‘a sick department’

2016-10-19 11:20
MEC For Health Sibongiseni Dhlomo during a discussion a few years ago.

MEC For Health Sibongiseni Dhlomo during a discussion a few years ago. (File)

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The KZN Health Department is a patient on life support that “urgently” needs to be paddled out of its shambolic state.

This was according to members of the Standing Committee on Public Accounts (Scopa) on learning that the department had received another qualified audit opinion and had incurred irregular expenditure to the tune of R4,1 billion.

The department had not disclosed all its irregular expenditure due to non-adherence to procurement legislation, the auditor-general’s report said.

The report added that there had been breakdowns in the department’s internal controls.

It is the department’s fifth successive qualified audit.

DA committee member Mark Steele called for drastic changes in the department.

“The dashboard that the auditor-general gave us this morning is a patient on life support covered in 10 red faces. There are 10 issues that the auditor-general has found in terms of the performance of this department.

“This is serious. The patient has either got to be put out of his misery or he’s got to have some drastic treatment,” he said.

Steele said it was worrying that issues like findings on assets values, irregular expenditure and overtime allowances had become worse than in the 2014/15 financial year.

Committee chairperson Maggie Govender said the department’s supply chain management needed an extensive investigation and overhaul.

The auditor-general found that the department did not advertise public invitations for competitive tenders, and bids were awarded without inviting at least three quotations.

Some contracts were amended or extended without approval by a delegated official.

Govender said most of these were as a result of officials in the department putting the department’s money in their pockets.

“It is not on,” she said.

Committee member Vusi Dube said it was unacceptable that the department was accounting to the committee for the same findings year after year.

“You cannot come here every time and explain the same thing while you are failing to do your work. If the department continues to receive repeat findings, we need to look at the lines of duty and operation and find out where the problem is.

“Sometimes it is very difficult to continue to listen to a presentation where someone says documents get lost in the process. This is a very embarrassing statement,” he said.

Dube called for those responsible to face the music.

“Some people must just resign or be fired. They must be tired of coming here every year to explain the same things,” he said.

The provincial department is also facing lawsuits relating to medical negligence totalling R10,06 billion, and is disputing an additional R2,79 billion payable to the National Health Laboratory Service.

MEC Sibongiseni Dhlomo said he did not believe that the personnel in the department’s supply chain management did not know what to do.

“It is just that they choose not to do it,” he said.

Asked why there were no consequences for the bad management in the department, Dhlomo asked department head Sifiso Mtshali to deal with the issue.

However, committee members did not wait for Mtshali to answer, saying there was no point in the department answering such questions, because the same questions were being asked every year.

The auditor-general also reported that the department had payables that exceeded the payment term of 30 days amounting to R171,91 million, and that he was unable to obtain sufficient appropriate audit evidence for commuted overtime allowances of R875 million.

Read more on:    pietermaritzburg

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