eNCA’s reporting on NWest health crisis unfair – NEHAWU

Union says news channel is blaming it for exercising its right to strike


21 April 2018

The National Education, Health and Allied Workers’ Union [NEHAWU] condemns with the contempt it deserve the unfair reporting by eNCA on North West health crisis. The reporting by eNCA seeks to blame the union for exercising its constitutional right to strike.

As NEHAWU, we hold a strong view that this is an unfair reporting and it borders on union bashing. The problems in North West Department of Health are there for all to see and both workers and patients have been inconvenienced by the crumbling healthcare system. The national union has always been in the forefront of exposing the rot in the department and continuously called for changes to salvage what was left of the healthcare sector in the province. The continuous failure by the department and the Provincial Government to engage meaningfully presents a missed opportunity in addressing the ever-deepening crisis of governance.

The blame for the collapse of the healthcare system in the province should be squarely put on the suspended Head of Department Dr Thabo Lekalakala, the Premier Supra Mahumapelo and MEC of Health, Dr Magome Masike. It is very disingenuous and mischievous to blame the union and its members for the crisis when NEHAWU has been calling for the removal of the people responsible for creating the crisis.

We are shocked by the eNCA reporting more so because our Provincial Secretary, Cde Patrick Makhafane, gave an interview explaining what led to the strike and the intransigence of the Department of Health in resolving the impasse. The one sided reporting by eNCA absolves the department from any wrongdoing let alone acknowledge the gross corruption and collapse of governance in the department as a direct source of the crisis.

As NEHAWU, we believe that the crisis in the North West healthcare system is a direct result of systematic man made problems by a few individuals who have no care whatsoever for the people they are supposed to provide healthcare for. In this regard, we will continue to call for the removal of those involved.

We want to remind eNCA that it is not NEHAWU nor workers who spent millions in buying 42 ambulances that were never used but instead outsourced EMT services to a private service provider at inflated prices. It is also not NEHAWU nor workers who looted the Department of Health with the Gupta linked Mediosa. Instead, workers bonuses have not been paid because the department prioritises invoices of private service providers who systemically loot the department through overblown prices.

The department was placed under administration last year and this has led to those who are politically connected to have direct control over the department’s budget and tenders. The national union raised concerns when the department was put under administration that it was not done for the right reasons but rather to further plunder state resources. Over the years, outsourcing of key functions of the department has benefitted and enriched service providers who are politically connected.

NEHAWU will always be in the forefront of fighting for better salaries and working conditions for its members and workers and this including going on strike if there is a deadlock. The constitution allows workers to go on strike as and when a need arises. A strike is usually the last resort after exhausting all available avenues to resolve a dispute.

Balance and fair reporting is a necessity and necessary for the public to be informed properly of current events. We appeal to eNCA to desist from one sided and sensational reporting. Failure to do so will leave us with no option but to report eNCA to the Press Ombudsman.

Issued by NEHAWU Secretariat, 23 April 2018