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The Democratic Alliance (DA) wants the Premier, Dr. Zamani Saul, to explain the re-appointment of Dr. Dion Theys as the Acting Head of the Northern Cape Department of Health.
The department has been without a permanent head since July 2020. Over the past couple of years, the DA has consistently asked the Office of the Premier about the prolonged delay in appointing a permanent head. Last year, we were told that an advertisement had gone out in June and that the timeframes for the appointment would be provided to the committee, which they never were.
On 24 March this year, we were told under no uncertain terms that an appointment would be made within two weeks. We are very disappointed that, despite the commitment made to the legislature portfolio committee, a permanent HOD appointment has still not been made.
We are also skeptical about the re-appointment of Dr Theys in this position. While some charges have been dropped and he has not been criminally convicted, he was arrested twice within a six-month period, during his former tenure as acting HOD. The one case relates to a 2014 lease agreement of the nursing students accommodation amounting to R96 million. The other case is in relation to procurement irregularities in a personal protective equipment (PPE) tender from 2020 valued at R43 million. With regards to the PPE case, the charges against Theys and the Chief Financial Officer, Daniel Gaborone, were provisionally withdrawn in December last year.
Theys has a dark cloud hanging over his head, and given the extent of corruption within the health department, his appointment does not inspire confidence in the government's ability to clean up the health department.
The DA is also suspicious about the timing of his re-appointment, which suddenly coincides with the dropping of his suspension. It is as if the Premier was purposefully holding out for him to return, and again take up this post.
The DA will again pose questions to Saul in respect of the acting HOD position. The health department is on a downward spiral. Even the parliamentary oversight committee that recently visited the province raised serious concerns about the health department in the Northern Cape, of which the Premier is well aware. It needs a permanent head with unquestionable integrity and a proven ability to pull health out from its crumbling state, not a further questionable acting appointment to facilitate more regression.
Issued by Harold McGluwa MPL - DA Northern Cape Provincial Leader