‘No basis to fire Dhlomo’

2017-06-23 13:45
KZN premier says systemic problems, not MEC, to blame for Health’s woes.

KZN premier says systemic problems, not MEC, to blame for Health’s woes. (File)

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Premier Willies Mchunu was adamant on Thursday that Health MEC Dr Sibongiseni Dhlomo would not be fired, despite mounting calls from opposition parties and doctors in the province.

Mchunu, speaking at a press briefing at the legislature, said he would not fire Dhlomo as the some of the issues behind the health crisis were beyond the department’s control.

He said the Health Department did not receive adequate funding from provincial treasury and this had affected the department’s operational capacity.

“In my view there is no basis yet for firing the MEC.”

Mchunu was responding to a damning report by the South African Human Rights Commission, which found that the Health Department had failed its cancer patients.

The failure was linked to broken radiation machines, CT and MRI scanners, as well as the failure to recruit and retain specialists within the department.

On Thursday, opposition parties, the DA, NFP and IFP, called for Dhlomo to step down from his position as MEC.

“The province has to choose between saving lives or keeping MEC Dhlomo,” said IFP MP Ncamisile Nkwanyana.

“He has failed to provide bold leadership in the province. It is either the people of KZN or Dhlomo,” she said.

DA MP Dr Imran Keeka said the report and intervention by the province was too little, too late.

“To feign ignorance is worse than the crime itself,” said Keeka.

“It is a slap in the face for those who have died and their families.

“It is unacceptable and intolerable and only gives more impetus to calls for [Dhlomo] to go.”

The NFP called on national government to place Dhlomo’s department under administration.

However, ANC MP Jomo Sibiya said the party acknowledged that there were concerns regarding the Health Department but they “commend the work by the MEC in the department”.

“We believe the department will find a lasting solution.

“The department is still doing good work and has been excelling in the last few years. We know there are issues but we cannot ignore the good,” he said.

During the executive statement by Finance MEC Belinda Scott, she said the challenges of the department are not limited to a specific area, but cut across a number of areas and are linked to competing priorities.

“In the main, the issues relate to various elements, some of which can be attributed to internal inefficiencies and others that are beyond the control of the department.”

Scott said 16% of KZN’s population rely on the private health sector while 84% “depend solely on the under-resourced public health sector”.

She said the department faced budget pressures, poor asset management, broken equipment, supply chain management capacity constraints, lack of proper internal controls and the increase in medico-
legal claims.

“To assist with these challenges, provincial treasury deployed resources in the department earlier this year.

“An assessment was done and it indicates that there are systemic problems that need formal intervention,” she said.

Scott said the premier and Dhlomo are working “very closely” with treasury.

“The officials from Health and provincial treasury are working jointly and urgently to provide the necessary support to address the issues identified.”

Treasury will take over the entire supply chain management function in the department, including the setting up of all bid committees and ensuring that the procurement legislation is adhered to.

“The work also involves taking stock of all tenders, reviewing which of the tenders are stuck in the appeals process, which ones need to be introduced, and so on,” she said.

Treasury will also be covering internal controls as they “are weak due to lack of capacity”, department assets, clearing of accruals, medical equipment and the national health laboratory services.

Read more on:    pietermaritzburg  |  kzn health department

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