Durban - The KwaZulu-Natal Health MEC Nomagugu Simelane Zulu has stressed there is no banning or suspension of the recruitment of foreign doctors.
This comes after her department withdrew its circular, stating that the hiring of foreign doctors had been put on hold due to issues raised in the circular had not been approved at national level.
In a statement, KZN Health MEC Nomagugu Simelane Zulu said that she had instructed the acting head of department to withdraw the circular because “matters raised in the circular were not discussed or agreed upon by the 6th administration, and therefore such a decision is not the official position of the Department of Health”.
“My preliminary investigation reveals that during the 2018-2019 financial year, there were discussions taken 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.
“The circular should therefore be regarded as null and void, as it has not been processed through the MEC and the provincial executive. We deeply regret the confusion that has arisen, and the impression created by the dissemination of this outdated circular with outdated decisions,” Simelane Zulu said.
However, before the withdrawal of the circular the Economic Freedom Fighters (EFF) in KwaZulu-Natal slammed the circular labelling it xenophobic.
With 336 foreign doctors from 57 countries already employed by the department, the department earlier this month said that it had taken a decision to suspend any more recruitment and employment of foreign national doctors to give priority to South African doctors, particularly the Cuban trained doctors.
Vusi Khoza, EFF provincial chairperson and member of the provincial legislature, said that this was a xenophobic move they do not support because foreign doctors have been working in the province’s health system for some time and most had even been willing to go to deep rural areas to work there.
“The government and the Department of Health should not be a job creation agent. What we expect the Health MEC Nomagugu Simelane Zulu to do is to prioritise the quality of service in the sense that when you go to hospitals such as Mahatma Gandhi and you get admitted there, the chances of coming out alive are very slim.
“Service delivery in hospitals such as Addington, Prince Mshiyeni and R.K Khan is a disgrace and that’s what should be prioritised before embarking on this xenophobic journey of freezing posts when their house is not in order. It’s the quality of service that we require, we need more doctors, specialists and practitioners and a better service delivery in hospitals,” Khoza said.
Mntomuhle Khawula, IFP member of the provincial legislature, had applauded the circular saying that it was on behalf of all unemployed doctors who were struggling to get employment and were already dealing with the negative social impact and financial stress that unemployment brings.
“We reiterate that the IFP does not have a problem with other countries providing jobs regarded as scarce skills to our country.
“This should however, not happen to the detriment of the citizens of our country. It is a fact that KwaZulu-Natal remains with loads of health professionals who are remaining at home with qualifications unemployed,” said Khawula.
He said that It was the duty of the government and every organisation doing business in the country to always prioritise South African skills to curb the issue of unemployment and poverty.