Minister of Health Dr Aaron Motsoaledi File picture: Jacques Naude
Johannesburg -  Labour federation Cosatu is calling on President Cyril Ramaphosa to fire Health Minister Aaron Motsoaledi as a first step toward  rescuing the country’s healthcare system.

The federation has criticized Motsoaledi for not taking responsibility for the problems facing his department.

“He has never taken responsibility for anything from the problems with the NHI, South African Nursing Council, Health Professionals Council, Esidimeni tragedy, Listeriosis outbreak and a host of other problems that have engulfed the sector over the years,” said Cosatu in a statement on Wednesday.

Cosatu, which is in an alliance with the ANC, said Mostoaledi had chosen to be in denial of the issues even though he has been the health minister for close to ten years.

“The amount of money that has been spent on the public health system over the last years has not delivered the desired results. We support the decisions that have been taken by national government over the years to intervene and rescue the health system in many provinces but the problems start with the national department of health under his leadership,” said Cosatu.

Cosatu’s calls follow Health Ombudsman Malegapuru Makgoba’s statements on Sunday that the country’s healthcare system was on the verge of collapsing.

Motsoaledi held a briefing on Tuesday to defend himself but admitted that his department was experiencing issues of overcapacity and staff shortages.  

He denied that it was on verge of collapsing and said public hospitals were still able to provide basic healthcare services in terms of HIV and TB treatment.  

The minister said some of the challenges of staff shortage were self-inflicted as provinces such as the North West and Gauteng had stopped filling in vacant posts.  

He also said the system was also being clogged by foreigners who also approached public hospitals for healthcare services.

The North West province, which has been hardest hit by healthcare issues, has been gripped by a healthcare strike for months led by members of the National Education, Health and Allied Workers Union (Nehawu).

The union has called for the health department to increase staff capacity at public hospitals. The SA National Defence Force had to send in its healthcare officials to help out at North West hospitals that were incapacitated due to the strike.

Cosatu said it would continue to support its unions such as Nehawu and Denosa who have been pushing back on the challenges facing the healthcare department.

Political Bureau