Tens of thousands of unemployed teachers and SA doctors; yet our schools and hospitals lack professionals
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In a stark revelation, Nomantu Nkomo-Ralehoko, Gauteng’s MEC for Health and Wellness, recently disclosed that the department annually allocates a staggering R14.3 million to employ just eleven Cuban doctors in public hospitals under a South Africa-Cuba agreement. This disclosure has ignited concerns as South Africa grapples with a paradox: tens of thousands of unemployed teachers and doctors coexist with a shortage of professionals in schools and hospitals.

The allocation of significant funds to employ Cuban doctors has sparked outrage as it comes amidst a backdrop of a vast pool of qualified medical professionals within South Africa who remain unemployed. Reports earlier this year indicated that nearly 700 (previously 800) South African medical doctors have struggled to secure jobs in the public sector since completing their qualifications. This plight extends to highly trained nurses facing similar challenges in gaining employment within the healthcare system. Budget constraints, escalating salaries, and substantial medical negligence claims payouts have been cited by the Health Department as reasons for not accommodating these professionals. However, the irony lies in the allocation of funds to employ a handful of Cuban doctors while neglecting homegrown talent.

The unemployment of doctors exacerbates an already dire shortage in the public healthcare system, where statistics reveal approximately three doctors for every 10,000 patients. This issue not only underscores governmental negligence but also the missed opportunity to utilize domestic resources to address critical shortages and contribute to economic growth.

Similarly, the Department of Basic Education faces its own employment crisis. Minister Angie Motshekga confirmed over 31,400 vacant teaching positions across the country’s schools while a significant number of teaching graduates remain unemployed. This exacerbates the chronic shortage of teachers, particularly in peripheral areas, leading to compromised educational standards and increased workload stress among educators.

The yhas voiced strong concern over the government’s failure to address these issues, attributing them to systemic corruption, cadre deployment, and administrative failures. The party emphasizes that the current administration lacks genuine concern for the welfare of South Africans, evident in the persistent unemployment crisis amidst the highest national unemployment rate recorded in recent years.

The UDM calls for urgent action from both the Department of Health and the Department of Basic Education. It urges the Health Department to develop strategic plans to create employment opportunities for South African doctors and address healthcare shortages effectively. Additionally, the UDM demands accountability from the Ministry of Basic Education to promptly fill the vacant teaching positions within a two-month timeframe, irrespective of the leadership changes within the ministry.

As South Africa grapples with these pressing issues, effective governance and proactive measures are imperative to address unemployment, bolster public services, and prioritize the welfare of its citizens. Failure to act decisively risks further exacerbating the socioeconomic challenges facing the nation.

By Mr Nqabayomzi Kwankwa, MP UDM Deputy President and Chief Whip

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