KwaZulu-Natal health MEC Sibongiseni Dhlomo. Picture: SOWETAN
KwaZulu-Natal health MEC Sibongiseni Dhlomo. Picture: SOWETAN

A one-month deadline issued by Parliament’s select committee on social services to KwaZulu-Natal’s health department to come up with a detailed turnaround plan means yet another delay in the provision of adequate healthcare services in the province and ultimately further suffering and death.

The ultimatum, issued last Thursday, comes as the province faces an oncology crisis along with serious medical equipment and staff shortages. The DA regards this latest deadline as yet another reprieve for the department. It is now almost three months since the South African Human Rights Commission (SAHRC) issued its damning report, which found that provincial health MEC Sibongiseni Dhlomo and his department were failing to provide adequate treatment to cancer sufferers in the province and had violated patients’ rights.

Since then, there has been meeting after meeting with nothing but talk about plans to resolve the dire situation that exists. These same meetings have seen the MEC duck and dive when it comes to answering tough questions. This, while he enjoys the protection of the ANC, with both Premier Willies Mchunu and Health Minister Aaron Motsoaledi refusing to fire him.

It is clear that Dhlomo refuses to accept liability for the dire state of his department. It is also increasingly apparent that he and his senior officials have no idea how to solve the problem they have created.

On Wednesday, the KwaZulu-Natal health portfolio committee will meet the SAHRC, where the DA will raise its concerns over the MEC’s failure to implement the recommendations contained in the report. The time for talk and deadlines is over. It is clear that the MEC cannot solve the disastrous situation he has created and must be fired.

Dr Imran Keeka, MPLDA KwaZulu-Natal health spokesman

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