Parliamentary Health Portfolio Committee chairperson Sibongiseni Dhlomo has apologised to KwaZulu-Natal Health MEC Nomagugu Simelane-Zulu after issuing a press statement last week calling her out for missing a meeting.
“As the chairperson of the committee, I apologise for the harm that the lack of clarity in the statement might have caused, and we have both agreed that our improved communication will avoid such a situation in the future,” Dhlomo said in another statement issued on Tuesday.
His initial statement prompted a harsh retort from Simelane-Zulu, a KZN political heavyweight, who called on Dhlomo, the previous health MEC, to not overreach his duties.
Dhlomo on Tuesday said the statement did not reflect that Simelane-Zulu had in fact attended the meeting and “asked to be excused as she had to brief the provincial cabinet on the current state of the Covid-19 pandemic in the country”.
“After my welcoming remarks, I allowed the MEC to leave the meeting. I did not open a discussion on her apology to leave the meeting.”
Dhlomo added on the incident: “Committee members felt that I should have asked the MEC to rejoin the meeting, and that became impossible as she had started presenting in the Cabinet meeting.”
During their heated exchange last week, Simelane-Zulu rejected Dhlomo’s claim that she did not inform him of her absence.
“The MEC has produced written evidence that she, in fact, asked to be excused from the meeting five days ago, due to a provincial cabinet meeting,” she had said.
She added his statement, which called for her to be reported to the speaker of the House, was “another example of administrative overreach and unbecoming behaviour by the chairperson of the health portfolio committee”.
Dhlomo had said: “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.”