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DENOSA Limpopo condemns attack and harassment of nurses by Health MEC at Rethabile CHC in Polokwane. 

Media statement  

Friday, 20 January 2023   

POLOKWANE – The Democratic Nursing Organisation of South Africa (DENOSA) in Limpopo strongly condemns the recorded attack and harassment of nurse managers at Rethabile Community Health Centre (CHC) in Polokwane by the MEC of Health, Dr Phophi Ramathuba, over the long queues that at the facility which are caused by gross shortage of staff. 

The video is making rounds on social media, distributed by the Department of Health in the province, supposedly to embarrass the manager and to show the MEC as “working”. 

The utterances and conduct by the MEC, Dr Phophi Ramathuba, are reckless, unprofessional, and embarrassing considering that she is a health professional and former union leader herself to have known how to approach such situations. In the video, the MEC can be heard saying the manager must forget about being a manager and attend to the patients on the queues, stating what time she needs the queue cleared. 

The MEC should have handled the situation in a better way than harassing, humiliating, attacking, and degrading these managers in front of clients and other community members in the clinic. There is enough space in the facility where the MEC should have engaged with the management of the facility.

The long ques in the clinics throughout the province, not Rethabile CHC alone, is caused by gross shortage of nurses in the hospitals and clinics in the province due to Department of Health’s failure to fill vacant posts vacated by nurses who went on pension, passed on, resigned, or transferred to other provinces and private healthcare institutions.

The shortage was further aggravated by the Department of Health’s failure to absorb or appoint Post-community service nurses who were trained by the same department.

It is the MEC’s responsibility to visit institutions to provide oversight and support health workers, particularly nurses who are working under difficult and strenuous conditions.

DENOSA Limpopo views this attack as a scapegoating where nurses are used to cover up shortages of staff in the Department of Health.

Rethabile CHC has been reduced to the level of ordinary clinic due to shortage of nurses, which induces desperation and frustration on the part of the MEC, which lead to removal of managers from the office. In many facilities, those managers are on acting posts. Out of the 400 clinics in the province, not more than 20 of them provide 24-hour services due to the department’s failure to fill vacant positions in such facilities. Therefore, the few 24-hour service centres are bound to experience overcrowding.  

And for the MEC to force nurse managers out of their workstation makes a mockery of the essence of having nurse managers in facilities – a mentality that has crumbled the country’s healthcare system due to a myopic view and belief of those who are not nurses and know nothing about nursing believing that nurses only belong to the bedside, which is utter rubbish to say the least! 

The same managers attacked by the MEC are professional nurses acting on the Positions of Operation and Assistant Managers, not even paid acting allowance as per Resolution 01 of 2002.

DENOSA calls for the MEC to refrain from these continuous embarrassing utterances in the media, which also bring down the confidence of having health professionals leading the department of health. By micro-managing nurses in facilities, due to her department’s failure to appoint a Chief Nursing Officer, instead of looking at policy oversight over the department makes the MEC a joke, frankly.  

As if this was not enough, another video, taken by the Department, made rounds on the social networks where she harassed, humiliated, attacked, and degraded these managers and nursing profession.

It is disappointing that it is said by another professional belonging to another discipline with no expert knowledge of nursing management. 

It is disingenuous for the MEC to harass and attack these managers in front of patients and community members. DENOSA has observed and is worried that every time the MEC is on social media, it’s when she attacks nurses.  

DENOSA Limpopo will, in the shortest space of time, review its stance on the MEC as the political head.

DENOSA Limpopo demands that the MEC should stop this continuous attack directed at nurses in the province and further stop managing the department through media because her office has spokespersons who are trained and would be more cautious.

The continuous attack of nurses by the MEC of Health is viewed as a direct attack to the nursing profession and DENOSA as a recognized union in the department is not going to let such level of disdain to pass without calling her out. 


Issued by DENOSA in Limpopo.  

For more information, contact:

Jacob Molepo, Provincial Secretary 

Cell: 0725764979

Lesiba Monyaki, Provincial Chairperson 

Cell: 0725782753

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