It’s a case of take it or leave it
Chief executive was paid R241 266.09 for unused leave from 2011-2015
THE CHIEF executive of the Khayelitsha District Hospital is accused of double standards after alleged irregularities around annual leave pay.
According to documents, which the Weekend Argus is in possession of, Anwar Kharwa, was paid R241 266.09 by the Western Cape Department of Health for unused leave days from 2011-2015.
Yet, two staff members at the hospital faced disciplinary action when their unused leave days were paid out. The staff in question were suspended and the matter went to the CCMA. They claim Kharwa denies approving their payouts totalling R30 233.12.
The provincial health department’s rule book states that all leave credits must be utilised before June 30 of the following year and if not, is forfeited.
When the Weekend Argus contacted the department about Kharwa’s case, its spokesperson, Mark van der Heever, said: “This does not sound right to me. Our leave policy clearly stipulates annual leave must be taken by all staff, although there are provisions where leave accrued can be paid out due to operational requirements. It did seem very strange that so many leave days were discounted or paid out,” said Van der Heever.
The documents, however, paint a picture of a man who has regularly been cashing in on unused leave. Kharwa accrued 120 days in a four-year cycle – he was paid out for 91 of them. That means he’s only managed to use one week’s worth of vacation days every year in that period.
His staff members claim they were unable to use their holiday leave, citing operational requirements – the very same reasons Kharwa wrote on his leave payment request forms.
The pair maintain they had verbal approval from Kharwa to effect their leave payments and that they followed due process. Not a single red flag was raised at the time and the money was paid to them at the end of June 2015.
But, according to these staffers, Kharwa did an about-turn, and allegedly sent an email on Saturday July 4, 2015 which stated that there be would no leave payments.
Afterwards Kharwa instituted disciplinary action.
The staff members claimed they received written confirmation that the outcome of internal disciplinary procedures found them guilty of misconduct and recommended that they be dismissed. The case then went to the CCMA, but this process never reached its conclusion and the pair returned to work.
Even stranger is the fact that Kharwa’s personnel file and leave payouts were processed from a separate facility and not the one where he works.
But Van der Heever later said: “This case of alleged contravention of the leave policy was investigated extensively and found not to be in breach of the departmental leave policy. The proposed deviation requires a stringent process of internal approvals, all of which were followed in the case in question.
As a rule the department discourages leave accumulation and tries to ensure that all employees go on annual leave.”
Sithembiso Magubane, the principal communications officer for Khayelitsha and the Eastern Substructure in the Western Cape Health Department, in his response, via email to Weekend Argus, to questions around Kharwa’s unused leave approval and payout, is a cut and paste response of Van der Heever’s.
Van der Heever, in turn, asked Weekend Argus to submit the hospital documents in our possession, so they could investigate the allegations put to them.
Kharwa has been in charge of Khayelitsha hospital since 2009.
When asked about allegations of mismanagement, Kharwa referred the Weekend Argus to the provincial health department.
The CCMA case is one of a long list of complaints by staff at the hospital. Staffers there, who wished to remain anonymous, said under Kharwa’s leadership there had been an average of 12 resignations yearly.
Most of those who left cited his style of management as the chief reason for their departure.
This reporter was shown a resignation letter dated Tuesday June 6, 2017 which states that Kharwa was the main reason for the resignation.
In a brief telephone call, Kharwa told Weekend Argus that the hospital was “doing very well” and that the “staff component is stable and none of the things you have mentioned is happening here”.
The Khayelitsha District Hospital, is run by Anwar Kharwa.