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Durban - The eThekwini municipality is being challenged in the Durban High Court over its appointment of embattled health head Nomakhosi Gxagxisa despite her being on suspension from her previous job.
The South African Municipal Workers’ Union has accused the city health department head of nepotism and questionable qualifications, and has made several attempts to remove her, but she has remained in her post.
Gxagxisa, a former political exile who studied for her medical qualification in the communist Eastern bloc, is said to enjoy strong ties with leading ANC figures.
The union has now approached the high court to call for a judicial review of the city’s decision to appoint Gxagxisa and their failure to initiate disciplinary proceedings against her for “creating a post” for a her son, Nceba.
The union’s lawyer, Elco Geldenhuys, said the papers had been served on Gxagxisa, municipal manager S’bu Sithole, the minister of co-perative governance and traditional affairs and the labour minister.
He said only the municipality had indicated it would be opposing the application, but it had not filed a response yet.
The court action comes after the city’s full council recently took a decision to re-advertise the position of deputy city manager of housing and infrastructure. This, after it was revealed that Slindokuhle Hadebe, who had been appointed to the position, had been on suspension from his previous job amid a tender corruption probe. Hadebe had not disclosed his suspension to the interview panel.
No stranger to controversy either, Gxagxisa was found guilty of unprofessional conduct and fined R20 000 by the Health Professions Council of South Africa in January.
The charges against Gxagxisa were that, between June 1992 and November 2011, she practised as a medical practitioner while not registered with the council, bringing the profession into disrepute.
When it emerged in 2011 that Gxagxisa had not been registered with the council when she was appointed - a requirement of the post - she was reassigned to the office of the deputy city manager.
She moved back to her position as health head after being registered with the council. In their court papers, the union’s provincial legal officer Sibusiso Biyela said Gxagxisa’s appointment had been “unlawful and unconstitutional”.
Regarding the alleged nepotism, Biyela said Gxagxisa had lowered the job requirements for the post of principal clerk in the health department and then appointed her son, Nceba, in 2010.
Nceba was dismissed in October 2010 but got a payout of R47 000 after he took up his dismissal with the South African Local Bargaining Council.
The union said the municipal ombudsman found the complaint of nepotism had substance and that disciplinary proceedings should have been “considered” but no action was taken by the municipality. The union said the city had not acted ethically nor in the public interest. “It has failed to take responsibility for its processes. The integrity and credibility of the municipality has been compromised. This is an untenable situation and requires the scrutiny and censure of the court.”