KwaZulu-Natal’s head of the Department of Health Dr Sifiso Mtshali has resigned with immediate effect. Provincial Premier Willies Mchunu’s spokesperson Thami Ngidi says the resignation comes after the provincial government embarked on a major intervention to address issues arising from management and administration in the department of health.

Two years ago when Doctor Sifiso Mtshali was appointed to the position as a head of health department, he was praised by the MEC Doctor Sibongiseni Dlomo for his outstanding performance in running Inkosi Albert Luthuli Central Hospital. Last month, he was suspended after the oncology crisis deepened. The crisis has allegedly led to the deaths of an undisclosed number of cancer patients around the province.

Ngidi says  Mchunu had been in consultations with the provincial executive in a bid to resolve the issue of non-repair to oncology machines. Ngidi says Doctor Mtshali was suspended over the oncology crisis after allegations that the appointment of the service provider to repair oncology machines at Durban hospitals was  found irregular and illegal.

“We can confirm that the head of department of health has resigned, submitted letter of resignation to the premier. This follows a crisis that is referred to oncology units in the department of health and the fact that there was a service provider that had been appointed in particular to repair the oncology machines. And you know there has been a suspension of the head and subsequent resignation so I can confirm that. The resignation is with immediate effect and the premier has accepted it.”

Meanwhile, Ngidi says an acting HoD will be appointed soon while they are busy with the processes of appointing a permanent HOD: ” That process might be long term but it does not mean that there is no work carried out so the personnel who exist now who are there in the department will carry out all the functions that need to carried out. If there is a need to beef up from the MEC’s office or from the premier’s office, there will be no lack or absence of performance just because of the resignation of the HoD.”

The Suspension comes as no surprise to the Democratic Alliance(DA). Provincial party spokesperson on health, Doctor Imran Keeka, says the premier need to take urgent actions to prevent the collapse of the department.

” We believe it might be a force resignation . We believe that the situation is not going to get any better even though doctor Mtshali has resigned. The oncology crises as we have noted has gone from bad than worse so the premier need to take urgent steps and need to show political leadership. He needs to fire the MEC, he needs to establish a full time CFO in the department and employ and establish a full time HoD in that department otherwise things are not going to turn-around at all, so this resignation comes as no surprise.”

Currently Doctor Musa Gumede is acting as the HoD for the KwaZulu-Natal department of health.