This comes after African News Agency reported that an internal department circular dated September 4 put a stop to the hiring of foreigners, particularly doctors, to allow for the department to accommodate Cuban-trained doctors.
In a statement yesterday, KZN Health MEC, Nomagugu Simelane-Zulu, said that she had directed the acting head of department, Dr Musa Gumede, to withdraw the circular.
In the withdrawn circular, Gumede states: “The department has taken a decision to suspend the recruitment and employment of foreign health professionals in particular foreign doctors.”
In the circular, Gumede said the department had a “huge” responsibility to ensure the Cuban-trained doctors were absorbed into the health-care system in the near future.
Simelane-Zulu said her preliminary investigation revealed that during the 2018-2019 financial year, there had been discussions to bring into stream young, unemployed South African doctors. “As the MEC for Health representing this administration, I want to state categorically that there is no banning or suspension of the recruitment of foreign doctors,” she said.
According to Simelane-Zulu, the circular should be regarded as null and void, as it had not been processed by her and the provincial executive.
“We deeply regret the confusion that has arisen,” she said.
The MEC said the department valued the contribution that all local and foreign doctors made.
“In light of what has been happening in South Africa, we stand with our African brothers and sisters and support the government’s efforts to deal with the situation,” she said.
Asked whether the department could put the hiring of foreign doctors on hold, Michael Maeso, a labour law attorney from Shepstone and Wylie, said the department was entitled to promote designated groups by law, including black people, women and people with disabilities who were South African citizens, if it was part of the department’s employment equity plan.
“This may cover the department in certain circumstances and give them the opportunity to prefer a South African citizen over a non-citizen to satisfy their employment equity plan,” said Maeso.