Senior kwaZulu government minister Dr Ben Ngubane, earns about R70 000 a year for a job he barely performs. Ngubane, the kwaZulu Minister of Health and the Inkatha Freedom Party’s top negotiator in constitutional talks, receives a monthly salary for being a district surgeon In Empangeni Northern Natal. He also receives a separate ministerial salary.
The kwaZulu Department of Health expected Ngubane to resign as a district surgeon when he was appointed minister in 1992, but he personally intervened to ensure that he continued drawing the salary.
In a frank interview, Ngubane said that when he took up his ministerial post he had kept his medical practice in Empangenl because, if he ever had to leave politics, he could return to it. Ngubane said he had “hired out” his practice to two other doctors, one his son in-law who also serves as district surgeons.
Ngubane, who has been a district surgeon since 1975, helps them “when I have time”. “It’s not a question of me being a district surgeon (but rather of) keeping it in my practice. I didn’t think it was immoral,” he said. Ngubane headed the kwaZulu government delegation to the World Trade Centre talks and was the IFP’s chief representative in subsequent bilateral talks with the ANC and government.
The Mail & Guardian has in its possession a document marked “kwaZulu government service — payroll listing for surgeons” which shows that for the month of June 1992 Ngubane earned a gross salary d R5 712. Alter deductions of R1 471.92 his net salary was R4 240,68. In August, Ngubane’s salary increased to a gross figure of R6 240, which after deductions fell to R4 546,32 net.
Ngubane said the was “dispersed to people working in my practice”. But a copy of a First National Bank cheque shows his salary is deposited in his account. Another document — an “Authority Docket” — informed the chief accountant that Ngubane would resign as district surgeon on January 1 1992.
The docket bears a Department of Health stamp dated October 8 1991. But another “Authority Docket” — apparently written after Ngubane had become minister, as it bears a stamp of January 27 – advises the chief accountant to cancel the previous docket and to “kindly reinstate” Ngubane. He admitted he had made the reinstatement request.