Kwazulu-Natal Health MEC Nomagugu Simelane-Zulu has accused Sibongiseni Dhlomo of “overreach” in his administrative duties as chairperson of the parliamentary health portfolio committee.
Her tongue lashing came after Dhlomo, the former KZN Health MEC, issued a statement through the committee on Wednesday, coming down hard on Simelane-Zulu for not attending a virtual meeting.
In the statement, Dhlomo said he informed Simelane-Zulu that the meeting was scheduled for Wednesday “and that there was no other day where members could attend”.
“The portfolio committee on health expressed its disappointment after the MEC for Health from KZN, Nomagugu Simelane-Zulu, failed to attend the scheduled meeting.”
He said the meeting was adjourned without her presence.
“[This was] as committee members were of the view that the meeting could not continue when the MEC was absent. The committee said the absence of the MEC is delaying the programme of the committee.”
Dhlomo slammed her for not being present.
“The committee said it is unacceptable for the MEC to tender an apology just before the start of the meeting. The committee said the MEC knew about the meeting and did not formally write to the committee to indicate that she would not be available.”
He said the matter would be escalated.
“The committee agreed that the matter should be reported to the Speaker of Parliament and the House Chairperson.”
The committee agreed to reschedule the meeting.
Actually, I sent an email five days ago…
Simelane-Zulu, however, rejected Dhlomo’s claims, saying she had, in fact, informed him five days ago that she would be absent.
In a statement, she produced written evidence in which she asked to be excused from the meeting due to a provincial cabinet meeting.
Simelane-Zulu hit back at Dhlomo, saying it was “another example of administrative overreach and unbecoming behaviour by the chairperson of the health portfolio committee”.
She said:The chairperson should know better than to make these false accusations. He had an opportunity to engage with me or the premier if he needed clarity on why I excused myself.
“Unfortunately, he once again opted to talk to us through the media, by issuing a statement. He has previously gone to the Magwaza Maphalala (Gale Street) and Park Rhynie medico-legal mortuaries and issued statements without talking to us.”
She further lambasted him saying he should have read his email.
“In fact… if he had bothered to check his email, or if his office was organised, he would have realised that I tendered my apology on the 14 August – five days ago. In my apology, I even made it clear the head of department would be representing me at the meeting.”
She added: “Over and above the apology, out of respect, I briefly came into the meeting this morning, where I once again apologised for my non-attendance.”
“Having been an MEC for 10 years, the chairperson ought to know that cabinet meetings are held as a standard item every Wednesday, and that they take priority over any other engagements.”
She labelled his action as “antics”.
“The antics of the chairperson in recent months leaves us with no option but to suspect that he has not accepted that he is no longer the MEC, and that he wants to continue leading from the grave, long after his tenure has ended.”
She told him to outright “stop”.
“Perhaps the time has come for the chairperson to be reminded that he had 10 years at the helm of the department, and that his predecessor never engaged in this kind of behaviour. He must just stop. He must learn to let go.”
Simelane-Zulu concluded by saying: “As a former chairperson of a portfolio committee myself, I understand and respect that people must be called to account to oversight bodies.”