Dr Sibongile Zungu has been announced as the new acting superintendent-general for the department of health in the Eastern Cape.
The announcement was made by Eastern Cape Health MEC Sindiswa Gomba in Bhisho on Tuesday during a media briefing of the provincial government.
Zungu is the former clinic advisor to Health Minister Dr Zweli Mkhize, and was sent to the Eastern Cape to head the Covid-19 coronavirus project management unit, which was meant to assist the provincial health department with intervention efforts.
Her appointment as acting health head of department (HOD) in the Eastern Cape comes after the resignation of Dr Thobile Mbengashe, whose last day on the job is September 30.
Premier Oscar Mabuyane announced the resignation of Mbengashe early this month. He also announced that he had appointed Mbengashe as a special advisor to the office of the premier.
Zungu formerly headed up the health department in KwaZulu-Natal, where allegations of corruption and mismanagement were levelled against her by the National Health and Allied Workers’ Union.
Jane Cowley, DA spokesperson on health, on Tuesday said she was disappointed at Zungu’s appointment.
“I think it is disappointing. [President Cyril Ramaphosa] made it very clear that people who are under investigation by the Hawks or any other investigating unit should do the right thing and step aside while the investigation is under way.
“This was an opportune time to put somebody in place who has the credentials, maturity and ability to lead the department out of the trouble it finds itself in. I think it’s a lost opportunity for the health department,” she said.
Cowley said although Zungu meant to stay on the job on an acting capacity for three months while a permanent candidate is sought, she did not believe this as the department tends to make short-term appointments last longer than intended.
“They are famous in that department for making acting positions last for a year. But I hope that in the interim they apply their minds to finding a competent leader for the department. We need someone with morale integrity; that is what we need most of all to turn the department about,” said Cowley.
Gomba’s spokesperson Judy Ngoloyi confirmed Zungu’s appointment.
“Dr Zungu has been appointed to act for three months while interviews are ongoing. The announcement was made by the MEC today,” Ngoloyi said.
She said the advert was already out and they hoped that in three months a permanent HOD would have been appointed.