The Democratic Alliance (DA) in KwaZulu-Natal has welcomed the resignation of the province's head of health department Dr Sifiso Mtshali, amid the oncology machines scandal, but further called for the removal of province's MEC for Health.

This comes after KZN Premier Willies Mchunu announced on Thursday that he has accepted Mtshali's resignation to avoid further legal and forensic costs being incurred and to bring finality to the issue of the cancer patients' crisis and the scandal of repairs to oncology machines.

DA provincial health spokesperson Dr Imran Keeka said that the announcement came as no surprise.  

"It was expected that he would have been fired anyway. The Premier's remarks suggest that he has done so in the best interest of the province. While this may be the case, the Premier has shown no political leadership in holding the bigger culprit, [Health] MEC [Dr Sibongiseni] Dhlomo, to account," Keeka said.

"For as long as he sits on his hands and does not fire the failed MEC, he must not expect KZN health to turn around. The diseased department has seen HODs, CEOs and other senior staff come and go but MEC Dhlomo sits there and continues to ruin KZN health."

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The provincial government recently embarked on a major intervention to address issues arising from management and administration in the KwaZulu-Natal Department of Health.  

It has been alleged that the appointment of KZN Oncology to repair oncology machines at Addington Hospital in Durban was irregular and illegal.  

Last month, Mtshali was suspended over the oncology crisis which has led to the death of an undisclosed number of cancer patients and saw an exodus of oncologists from the province's payroll. He was appointed as the head of department in June 2015 after running Inkosi Albert Luthuli Central Hospital.

Mchunu said that he had been in ongoing consultations with the provincial executive, particularly Dhlomo and the MEC for Finance Belinda Scott, in a bid to resolve non-repairs to oncology machines.

Keeka said that Mchunu should understand that the department now has, at the helm, an MEC that has lost control of the department, an acting HOD and an acting chief financial officer.  

"If this is not a recipe for further disaster, then what is? He needs to act urgently," Keeka said.  

"First he needs to fire the MEC and ensure that the acting posts are filled on a full-time basis. The People of KZN deserve better leadership and must punish the premier and his government for the suffering in our healthcare facilities."