Two years down the road, efforts to fill the key CFO position in the KZN Health Department have been fruitless. Opposition party members are demanding answers. Head of department Sifiso Mtshali recently resigned after being placed on suspension. Picture: African News Agency/ANA
Durban - The KwaZulu-Natal Department of Health has been without a chief financial officer for two years, but the department insists it is trying its best to fill the post.

Politicians on both sides of the divide have questioned how it could take so long to fill the position, saying it is hampering the direction and financial controls of the department.

Their concerns come as head of department Sifiso Mtshali recently quit after being placed on suspension.

In 2015 the then head of the department, Dr Sibongile Zungu, tried to appoint Ndoda Biyela to the position, but this was scuppered by MEC Sibongiseni Dhlomo who said there were serious allegations against Biyela in his previous job in Gauteng.

Dhlomo said that if Biyela set foot in the department’s offices, it would be considered trespassing.

While addressing members of the legislature on the budget adjustment recently, MPLs expressed concern that the department, which had been flagged as a potential culprit for over-expenditure along with Education and Transport, was without a CFO.

DA MPL and spokesperson on Health, Dr Imran Keeka, told The Mercury on Tuesday there was instability in the department.

“The department has not had a CFO in the last two years and has an acting HoD – its finances are in absolute ruin. We have brought up this issue of the position of the CFO that has not been filled, but it just continues.

“The instability will continue and people will suffer,” he said.

The chairperson of the finance portfolio committee, Sipho Nkosi, said the post had been vacant for too long.

“We have been asking about that matter in the finance portfolio committee and the standing committee on public accounts.

“I recently spoke with Premier Willies Mchunu and department officials, who said the matter was being attended to.

“They said a person earmarked to fill the position had rejected it, so now the process has to start again from scratch,” said Nkosi.

Yusuf Bhamjee, the chairperson of the health portfolio committee, said they had been engaging with the department’s political head to fill the vacancy.

“I made a motion to that effect and the matter is currently in the hands of the MEC. We are very concerned that this very important position has not been filled,” he said.

KZN Department of Health spokesperson Ncumisa Mafunda said: “The post of CFO has been advertised several times. Unfortunately, a suitable candidate has not been found.

“The department will re-advertise in January. Should a successful candidate still not be found, the department will have to go for head-hunting.”