The embattled Eastern Cape health department remains under pressure. Health workers union, Nehawu, is calling for the removal of the Superintendent General of the health department Doctor Thobile Mbengashe.

The union says Mbengashe is running the department into the ground, adding that under his watch, hospitals are headed by managers who lack the capacity to lead.

Nehawu has been at odds with the department since the pandemic hit. The friction centres around the provision of PPEs, managing the safety of health workers and now the quality of management staff.

The union’s Provincial Secretary Micky Jaceni says they are demanding a skills audit for staff in the department.

“We are saying to the premier, ‘you are given now the opportunity to take the right decision and hire a person with the requisite and necessary skills to give a strategic direction to this department.’ So, we are calling on the premier to assist the people of.”

Nehawu has been expressing its grievances with a number of spot protests by its members at health institutions during the past two months.

SABC News understands that the relationship between the union and the health SG is at an all-time low. Meanwhile, Dr Thobile Mbengashe says the union’s utterances are driven by anxiety and frustration.

However, Mbengashe says the union’s reaction is driven by anxiety in light of the coronavirus pandemic.

“I think the frustration is that many of the things they had hoped for to happen are not happening as fast as they can. We can’t deal with the fear of the staff other than providing the necessary support to them. I think the second one is that the MEC has put up a big structure and they have moved out of that structure, so that’s why they are not closer to the issues that we have.”

This week, Nahuwu announced its plan to withdraw its labour for a day across the country on the 21st of August, encouraging its members to file for a day’s leave on that day.

More than 3 500 health care workers in the Eastern Cape have contracted the virus since the outbreak of the pandemic.

Leadership Expert Dr. Mazwe Majola weighs in saying it is very sad and unfortunate that we have not witnessed this era of accountability and consequence: