Unemployed healthcare workers stage protest at Union Buildings

Reading Time: 3 minutes

Hundreds of unemployed healthcare workers, organised under the South African Medical Trade Union, gathered at the Union Buildings in Pretoria to protest the high number of healthcare professionals who are currently unemployed in the country.

The demonstration is in response to ongoing concerns about the surplus of trained healthcare workers struggling to secure employment.

Tebogo Moalusi from Rise Mzanzi expressed the sentiment that the government has let down these medical professionals, and the protestors stand in solidarity with the health workers.

Moalusi says, “If we have more than 800 doctors who are qualified, who are able to work and not in our hospitals – it means longer waiting time, longer lines which means that our people will die in those lines. We cannot have this as a people. This government continues to fail us, and we must stand in solidarity with healthcare professionals to say we will fight with you.”

“You fought with us during COVID, you continue to fight for us when we’re unhealthy, and so we’re here as Rise Mzanzi, shoulder to shoulder to carry you to your victory,” he added.

Unemployed healthcare workers expected to march to the Union Buildings:

The Health Department cited fiscal constraints as contributing to the lack of employment for hundreds of young health professionals, especially medical doctors who have completed statutory community service programmes.

Earlier in February, the South African Medical Association Trade Union (Samatu) submitted a list of 825 unemployed medical doctors to the department last month.

Samatu General Secretary, Dr Cedric Sihlangu says delays in the placement of graduate doctors is crippling the country’s public health system due to dire staff shortages.

Sihlangu says there is no political will to urgently address the crisis.

“The staff shortages are a long-known phenomenon. Our belief is that the health system in the public sector is actually collapsing. We have clinics and hospitals without a single doctor and yet we have numerous unemployed doctors sitting at home,” he added.

Looking at the future of doctors in South Africa