Pretoria – Pressure is mounting on outgoing Gauteng Premier David Makhura to act against his provincial Health MEC Nomathemba Mokgethi, following her conflicting reports about the appointment of Dr Ashley Mthunzi as CEO of Tembisa Hospital.
The pressure increased yesterday after Mokgethi’s office issued a media statement denying that Mthunzi, prior to his appointment as Tembisa Hospital’s CEO in June last year, was faced with a disciplinary charge of contravening the recruitment policy of the Health Department while CEO at Pholosong Hospital in Ekurhuleni.
This contradicts a written reply she made under oath in the legislature dated September 12. In the latest reply, Mokgethi replied to a question from the DA’s health spokesperson, Jack Bloom, who asked: “Why was it indicated that Dr Mthunzi has not been found guilty on a misconduct charge when he was given a final written warning for contravening the recruitment and selection policy, as signed by the acting head of department on September 15, 2021?”
In her reply, Mokgethi said: “On September 15, 2021, the acting head of department , Dr Sibongile Zungu, approved the recommendations that Dr Mthunzi should be disciplined for contravening the recruitment and selection policy. The labour relations directorate was supposed to implement the said recommendations.”
Mokgethi also said that in June, when asked the same question by the DA, she was given false information by the former acting deputy director-general of hospital services, Freddy Kgongwana.
The Pretoria News published the story on Tuesday this week but on Wednesday night her office retracted the statement that the appointment of Mthunzi was “dodgy”.
Under the department’s official letterhead, the Gauteng Health Department blamed Bloom, alleging that he was the one who claimed that Mthunzi’s appointment was dodgy.
The statement read: “The Gauteng Department of Health would like to dismiss the deliberate distortion of facts by Member of the Provincial Legislature Mr Jack Bloom on circumstances surrounding the appointment of Tembisa Hospital CEO Dr Ashley Mthunzi.
“Mr Bloom, in his recent statement, alleges that the department falsely denied that Dr Mthunzi was appointed while facing a disciplinary charge and that he was subsequently given a final written warning.
“The department would like to categorically state that at the time of his appointment Dr Mthunzi was not facing any disciplinary charge or action.”
It further said that Mthunzi was not served with any final written warning and there was currently no disciplinary process against him, as alleged by Bloom.
“It must be stated that on September 15, 2021, the then acting head of department signed a report prepared by an internal investigator recommending that Dr Mthunzi and other officials should be given final written warning(s) without applying the audi alteram pattern rule (the principle of hearing the other side in any matter).
“Following the commitment by the MEC for Health when responding to the recent legislature question, the matter was further investigated and the department wishes to emphasise the following factors: the investigator acted ultra vires in that they investigated and pronounced a sanction without following due process; the legislature response by the MEC for Health on June 20, 2022 was correct in stating that Dr Mthunzi was not found guilty of any previous misconduct charge; at the time of responding to the legislature question of June 20, 2022, the Accounting Officer and the Head of Hospital Service were not aware of the existence of the report.”
Yesterday, Bloom expressed surprise at the latest reaction, labelling it “bizarre”. He also lodged a complaint with speaker Ntombi Mekgwe, about receiving incorrect replies and was now considering reporting Mokgethi to the Public Service Commission.