The article was first published on 20 January 2021
President of fast-growing ActionSA, Herman Mashaba, has highlighted that there are about 40,000 medical posts frozen and more 500 unemployed doctors who want to help fight Covid-19 – but can’t get jobs. Meanwhile, taxpayers have footed the bill for Cuban medical personnel. He shares the details of the #HireOurMedicalHeroes campaign and why new hospital staff need full-time jobs – and not the ‘evil’ of contracts while they are exposed to the virus. He also dissects slow vaccine delivery and the government’s empty coffers. – Jackie Cameron
Herman Mashaba on his investigation into state hospitals:
I think the state of our hospitals is really very unfortunate. When the president announced the lockdown last year, we applauded him – and I was one of those that applauded his immediate reaction to this pandemic, with the hope that the plan was to prepare our health facilities for the pandemic. Unfortunately, if you go to majority of our public hospitals – if not all – the situation is actually the worse than what it was to it was pre-Covid.
The reason why, is because our infrastructure is collapsing – and it started collapsing long before Covid. Since the dawn of democracy, the focus was on changing names – some of them actually changing names more than once. I don’t know what the ANC government thought by changing the name of of a building. So obviously that has been the first problem.
The second problem is the non-employment of South African medical professionals. Doctors and nurses. As you are aware, since 1994, many of our professional health workers have left this country. They’re sitting today in London, Dubai, the Middle East, Australia and so forth. But we have the audacity to go and train our kids in Cuba and bring Cuban doctors at almost three times what it would cost to train a doctor properly in South Africa, for that matter.
On the 40,000 frozen medical posts in SA:
The government had frozen 40,000 posts in healthcare. I read about this in one of the papers before I raised the alarm, where 500 professional, highly trained doctors were not employed in this country. So right now, as I’m talking to you, we are running a petition until the end of this month.
As of last night, I can tell you that [there are] 625 unemployed health professionals, doctors and nurses – highly professional – who are unemployed today. But we are spending over R400 million on Cuban doctors. We will run this petition until end of the month.
We will then engage the Department of Health to explain to South Africans, as to why [there is] such a huge number of highly trained medical people that are, by far, better than the Cubans. Why they are not employed to when we have the money to bring in Cuban doctors into our country.
On what went wrong with the planning:
There was no planning. That’s a problem. There was no planning. Let me just remind you of the Gauteng provisional government. They’re talking about just over 500 beds created [during the] lockdown, when we’ve got thousands of our people going to hospitals today. I’m sure you saw the what is happening at Steve Biko Hospital [in] the last few days. In fact, even up to this morning, someone called me from Pretoria to say, you’re most welcome to come and see the state of our health facilities.
This current government is not in government to serve society. They’re in government to be near the state of resources. They are there for the looting. Public service is not in line of their priorities. They wake up every morning to see how much they can steal. That’s why when Covid-19 hit and Presidential Cyril Ramaphosa announced that R500 billion stimulus package, I wrote a letter the following morning, [saying] ‘Mr. President, you know you are surrounded by the hyenas. They’re going to think that this R500 billion is for stealing. Please ensure that you put in proper, appropriate measures around how you’re going to procure’.
On the Covid-19 vaccine:
Well, President Ramaphosa made it quite clear that government does not have the money. The cupboard is bare. There’s just no money. So what happened to the money? I don’t have to tell you. You know, that the money – trillions of public moneys – over the last three years has been looted.
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