Eastern Cape health department superintendent-general Dr Thobile Mbengashe has resigned to become one of Premier Oscar Mabuyane’s special advisers.
The news was announced by Mabuyane on Tuesday during his weekly media briefing on Covid-19 interventions, held at Madzikane KaZulu Hospital in KwaBhaca, formerly known as Mount Frere.
“Our head of department has resigned and he will be leaving the department at the end of September. On behalf of the provincial government, I want to thank Mbengashe for his service to the people of our province.
“It was not the first time that he served the people of our province. He has served in various capacities including in the liberation struggle, where he was actively involved in fighting apartheid. We thank him for his service because he used his skill, wisdom and expertise to serve the people of our province during his work at the department,” said Mabuyane.
He said Mbengashe’s skills and expertise would now be used in a different capacity.
“He will be playing a strategic role of advising on how we can continuously improve the provincial administration going forward. The good work we have done in the fight against the Covid-19 coronavirus is because we had him and his colleagues at the helm of the administration. We appreciate [what he did] on that front,” said the premier.
Eastern Cape health MEC Sindiswa Gomba said it was not going to be easy to get a replacement for the departing Mbengashe. She revealed that he had resigned from his post at the time of her deployment to the MEC post, but she had asked him to stay a little longer.
“My view is that the superintendent-general is not lost to health completely. In his letter of resignation, he says this is a move to open for the younger generation to come into the fold while he is still there to nurture and assist, which I appreciate.
“However, it is not going to be smooth sailing to get [a replacement] at this time. But I hope that with the assistance of the premier it’s not going to be a difficult task. But he is still with us for some wrapping up and will be with us as we look for a new superintendent-general,” she said.
Mbengashe said working through the Covid-19 coronavirus had been a hectic five months.
“When you look at the modelling, one of the biggest challenges was that the Eastern Cape was not ready. You would recall that [Health Minister Zweli Mkhize] came and worked with the MEC to agree on what would be the best strategy.
“And that strategy was towards targeted intervention and making sure that all the clusters for Covid-19 were addressed. The premier, together with [President Cyril Ramaphosa] and the minister came to Port Elizabeth ... and the president said he was happy with our plans and report. The minister was also happy,” he said.
“Everyone was thinking that we would not survive as a province, but I think we have actually done a good job, together with the districts. I think the best contribution comes from the people of the Eastern Cape.”
On his appointment as special adviser to the premier, Mbengashe said: “I think it’s the best time for me to work with the premier now to try and understand how best to create the next capacity to work with the next big wave that is coming up. But, most importantly, how do we really transform the state in creating an agile system.”