The Northern Cape premier, Sylvia Lucas, has been roped in to intervene in a spat between the Health MEC and her HOD Steven Jonkers. MEC Fufe Makatong accuses her Head of Department Steven Jonkers of hampering operations.
This has led to the MEC writing to premier Lucas earlier this year for intervention.
Health workers’ union Nehawu in the province is also calling for the removal of the HOD.
The Democratic Alliance (DA) in the province believes the squabble is causing the current crisis within the department. There is currently a shortage of staff, a shortfall of ambulances and negligence law suits.
“I’ve learned reliably that the MEC wants to fire the HOD. The MEC must come clear with this matter, why does she want to fire the HOD?” says the DA’s Andrew Louw.
Makatong also wants premier Lucas to act swiftly. She claims it’s difficult to provide oversight in the current climate.
“There were some areas where I felt I needed the intervention of the Premier to enable us as the department to unlock some of the areas just for the betterment of the services that we want to provide,” says Makatong.
Nehawu says the HOD is failing in his duties:
“We call for a removal of the HOD – and currently that is the case as the national union. We would be very happy if he can be removed. If you look in terms of the state of our hospitals and recently we had our community health workers, the implementation that hasn’t been made, and those are things that he’s supposed to assist us. We negotiated in a chamber and things have not happened,” says Nehawu Provincial Secretary, Steffen Cornelius.
Premier Lucas however insists that the MEC should be patient:
“The MEC sent me a very thick file and in this file there are several documents. Each and every person that we appoint is ruled by the Public Service Act. So in terms of our own legislation, you cannot just fire someone, you need to follow a process and we must just learn and be very patient, even if you have a problem with someone.”
Premier Lucas says she’s currently dealing with the matter.
HOD Jonkers was unavailable for comment.