Celebrating 25 years of uniting nurses

DENOSA Student Movement believe Limpopo Health MEC could turn her energy to progressive change instead of theatrics.

Media statement

Thursday, 26 January 2023. 

PRETORIA – Given the latest trending video of MEC of Health in Limpopo, Dr Phophi Ramathuba, where she once again plays to the gallery by humiliating a group of nurses at Rethabile Clinic in Polokwane, the Democratic Nursing Organisation of South Africa’s Student Movement (DENOSA) believe the MEC should rather channel her energy towards progressive systemic change into her province’s crumbling healthcare system instead of keeping victimising her fellow colleagues on social media in exchange for some short-term public liking.

On numerous occasions, the MEC conducts oversight visits in healthcare facilities which is a commendable move, as a way to personally experience the challenges in our system than just making judgements based on written statistics.

What is displeasing about her demeanor during these visits, however, is how fellow workers are shamed and shouted at in front cameras and patients and forced to take the blame for the failures of the health system as if they are the cause. 

We have since observed the MEC‘s behaviour over the years that seeks to boost her own confidence by avoiding her failure to act on staff challenges to avoid failures in providing quality service delivery. Instead of addressing the real issues, she has taken a part-time job over the years walking around facilities interrogating patients and nurses like a Selimatunzi aspirant presenter; a character that is similar to that of a mere tick tock influencer. 

We can safely say that we note her progress as a content creator and social media darling rather than an agent of change and progress in that department. 

We confidently say that because she has a chance to address the issue of long queues and waiting time in facilities by deploying resources to ensure that her facilities function optimally for patients and communities of Limpopo. 

The first action is absorbing community service professional nurses, which is something that has been foreign to the Limpopo Department of Health for years. We have seen a migration of nurses trained by the Limpopo Department of Health to other provinces, with some flooding the private sector due to failure to employ them by the same department that trained them as part of their staff establishment. 

A great part of these qualified professionals were subjected to short term contracts, which had no future guarantee for their professional and economic development. Some have actually left the country in pursuit of greener pastures overseas.

We say the MEC cannot go around telling nurse managers to leave their work and assist on the ground whereas they are faced with a large duty as researchers and strategists to address challenges in their facilities; research which becomes useless because they can never get any positive response to their recommendations to increase staff as they are always told of budget constraints. 

Instead, they get theatrical visits to remind them how they should break their backs to assist a system that is not prepared to assist them in return. In reality, even if a nursing manager goes to the ground in the case of attending the long queues, it will still not address the systemic situation.  

In any professional setting, we expect respect which is something the MEC does not show to workers. Before any other thing a nurse is a member of the community, a mother and people still need to have confidence in this person who is taking care of their health. The MEC seems to not think about that once the paparazzi is on.

Furthermore, we believe that, instead of publicity stunts, the second action is to fill in the vacant management posts. Many facilities are run by acting managers who are professional nurses and are not paid for those acting posts.

This means that the people who are supposed to attend to patients are now taken from the front line to cover up management work. It cannot be that an MEC is confident on camera while a critical department like health is faced with such instability. 

Adding to this, there are Enrolled Nurses who went for training under the bridging programme to become general nurses. For years, those nurses have not been translated and are expected to function as professional nurses whereas they are employed and paid as staff nurses. There is no intention to appropriately pay these nurses with a salary equivalent to the duties they are expected to perform.

Many communities in the rural areas of Limpopo are unable to receive complete care because clinics are not receiving complete resources to function, from medication to staffing. A number of clinics are not able to operate for 24 hours because there are not enough staff to enable such a function. 

A woman in labour has to wait for an ambulance for years to get assistance at a hospital far away whereas they could be assisted in the local clinic that closes at night. These are the challenges the MEC should be giving positive feedback about on her Facebook content catalogue. That way, she will receive the likes for the right reasons.

We call on all community service professionals to prepare themselves for the streets. The MEC has been failing to absorb post community service professionals for years. The time to act is now.

Issued by DENOSA Student Movement.

National Chairperson: Nathaniel Mabelebele 

Mobile: 071 624 5490 

National Deputy Secretary: Boitumelo Maila.

Mobile: 074 042 5402

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