South Africa Elections 2024 Cyril Ramaphosa

President Cyril Ramaphosa. Image: RAJESH JANTILAL / AFP

Healthcare workers in KZN disrupt Ramaphosa’s address to ANC supporters

Community healthcare workers in KZN disrupted Ramaphosa’s speech to ANC supporters, advocating for full-time employment and improved wages.

South Africa Elections 2024 Cyril Ramaphosa

President Cyril Ramaphosa. Image: RAJESH JANTILAL / AFP

During President Cyril Ramaphosa’s election campaign in KwaZulu-Natal on Friday, a small group of community healthcare workers briefly interrupted the event, pressing for full-time employment and improved wages.

Health workers ‘whoa’ Ramaphosa

While addressing ANC supporters in Ashdown township, Pietermaritzburg, Ramaphosa was interrupted by the workers chanting his name and holding placards advocating for permanent employment.

According to The Sowetan Live, some community health workers (CHWs) interviewed by TimesLIVE said they receive a stipend of approximately R4000 per month without benefits such as pension or medical aid. 

 They expressed concerns about the need for job security, as they are contracted for 12-month periods without the assurance of permanent employment.

They are requesting a meeting with Ramaphosa before 29 May, the day of the elections, to address their demand for a plan to transition them into permanent employees.

They held placards reading: “President Ramaphosa, we need a meeting with you regarding community healthcare workers.”

Others read: “President Ramaphosa sort this community health care workers thing before 29 May” and “President, can you survive on R4,000 per month … when are you absorbing health care workers.”

Ramaphosa did not directly acknowledge the demonstration, but a significant portion of his speech centred around the ANC’s strategy to generate millions of jobs via the Expanded Public Works Programme (EPWP). 

He also emphasised the National Health Insurance (NHI) Bill, which he recently signed, portraying it as a vital measure to tackle the issue of inadequate access to quality healthcare among the impoverished.

“As we speak, our people are not able to access quality health care because when they are unwell and want to seek medical assistance, they are asked to pay a fortune. As things stand, it’s only the rich who are able to access quality health care. And to us as the ANC, that’s unacceptable,” he said.

Healthcare Professionals Outraged as Input on NHI Bill Ignored, Claiming it Reverses Healthcare Access

The South African Health Professionals Collaboration (SAHPC) group asserts that their members’ concerns and suggestions during the parliamentary proceedings on National Health Insurance were consistently disregarded.

This raises significant doubts regarding the fairness and efficacy of the democratic process.

President Cyril Ramaphosa signed the contentious NHI Bill on Wednesday.

The SAHPC, a national coalition comprising nine medical, dental, and allied healthcare practitioners’ associations representing over 25 000 healthcare workers from private and public sectors, conveyed its “deep disappointment.”

According to TimesLive,  SAHPC spokesperson Dr Simon Strachan highlighted that their members have consistently submitted proposals at every phase of the legislative process since the publication of the green paper in 2011.

It is disheartening to see our efforts to contribute to a more robust, workable and patient-centric healthcare system being ignored,” he said.

“Where we are is unprecedented, and we believe the NHI in its current form will reverse, rather than progress, equitable, quality healthcare in South Africa. We have no doubt the NHI Bill will be challenged in the courts, and we are exploring all our options in this regard. 

“As healthcare practitioners, our primary concern is the wellbeing of our patients. As experts in our field, we believe the president has an obligation to ensure that the NHI improves rather than limits overall healthcare for every citizen. He has failed to do this.”