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Political mud-slinging over St Francis Hospital debacle

KZN Health MEC Nomagugu Simelane-Zulu has accused senior IFP leaders of political interference

KZN Health MEC Nomagugu Simelane-Zulu has accused senior IFP leaders of political interference at the troubled St Francis Hospital in Ulundi.

Simelane-Zulu made this accusation following two Mahlabathini protests where St Francis Hospital staff and community members took to the streets in protest against the impending cutting of services at the hospital by the Department of Health.

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‘The IFP is clearly determined to sow division in the community by thwarting the department’s efforts to streamline the functioning of St Francis

Hospital, to ensure efficient and optimal utilisation of limited healthcare services,’ said Simelane-Zulu.

She explained that the rationing of services at St Francis, which is located close to Nkonjeni Hospital, will eradicate wastefulness and is a better allocation of human and material resources.

‘The department has completed wide consultative processes with local leadership, traditional leadership, hospital boards, the labour component, relevant stakeholders, and the affected community on this matter,’ she said.

‘In fact, after the process, the community will access an even better package of healthcare services from that institution, as well as from Nkonjeni Hospital.’

According to Simelane-Zulu, this process was in its final stages when the pandemic hit, with the hospital then revamped to accommodate Covid-19 patients.

She said such measures aimed at optimising healthcare services are being co-ordinated throughout the province.

However, they are experiencing challenges at St Francis Hospital owing to ‘political interference, mainly by the IFP’.

‘This is why we appeal to the party to stop interfering in matters of hospital governance,’ she said.

IFP KZN spokesperson for health Ncamisile Nkwanyana called Simelane’s statement ‘misleading’ and ‘devoid of truth’.

‘This is nonsensical. Simelane-Zulu has failed dismally to perform her duties and to bring the change needed to repair the ailing healthcare system in KZN.

‘She appears to be angry because people have lost faith in her leadership as the health MEC and are choosing to report to the IFP as a party they trust,’ Nkwanyana said.

She said people will be forced to travel 14km from Mahlabathini to Nkonjeni for healthcare services, but for those using public transport, the journey is longer.

‘According to local residents, you have to travel from St Francis to Mashona town and then to Nkonjeni, which means people pay twice.

Nkwanyana said taxis are sometimes delayed or late, forcing people to hitchhike which is unsafe.

‘We understand Simelane-Zulu is not happy that the IFP exposes failures at KZN healthcare facilities, but we caution her that the time for spin-doctoring and defending her failures is over.

‘She must humble herself and communicate with the people. Being untouchable will not solve healthcare issues in KZN,’ said Nkwanyana.



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