Unemployed doctors march to Department of Health

They demand permanent jobs and no budget cuts to healthcare

By Joseph Bracken

12 February 2024

Photo of protesters

Doctors marched to the Department of Health offices in Pietermaritzburg on Monday to demand jobs. Photo: Joseph Bracken.

Over 80 unemployed doctors marched from UNISA campus on Longmarket Road to the KwaZulu-Natal Department of Health’s offices in Langalibele Street, Pietermaritzburg, on Monday.

They went to hand over their CVs and a memorandum demanding that the healthcare budget be increased to accommodate over 700 qualifying medical practitioners. The department was given 14 days to respond.

Eighty-four unemployed doctors also signed a register handed to the department.

The doctors were met by Deputy Health Minister Sibongiseni Dhlomo who said health minister Joe Phaahla had another engagement. Dhlomo said the department was working to address the issue of unemployed doctors, and that the minister would raise it this week in Parliament and ask that healthcare be exempt from budget cuts.

Dr Siya Shozi, part of a “small committee” of unemployed doctors with no political affiliation mandated to liaise with the department, said the march was coordinated through a WhatsApp group. Shozi was happy with the turnout but said it did not represent the large number of unemployed doctors in KZN and its rural areas.

Busiziwe Mancotywa, a grade one medical officer who has been unemployed since completing her training at the end of last year, said, “You apply for some positions where you meet the minimum requirements but for whatever reason you are never contacted”.

Mancotywa was joined by her brother, Nqaba, who is finishing his internship at Greys Hospital. He said if action is not taken now, he won’t find a job in the future.

Nomfundo Mbanjwa, also a grade one medical officer, complained about the cost of applying for jobs, including printing applications and transport to interviews. Mbanjwa says she had to sell her car to cover these costs.

Representatives from the South African Medical Association Trade Union (SAMATU) and the Public Servants Association of South Africa (PSA) joined the march and pledged support for the doctors.