It’s a case of take it or leave it

Chief ex­ec­u­tive was paid R241 266.09 for un­used leave from 2011-2015

Weekend Argus (Saturday Edition) - - FRONT PAGE - NORMAN CLOETE

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”.

PIC­TURE: SUPPLIED

The Khayelit­sha District Hos­pi­tal, is run by An­war Kharwa.

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