Health freezes jobs

2015-10-14 12:27

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Pietermaritzburg - The KwaZulu-Natal Health Department has instructed its departmental heads to freeze all vacant posts as part of a cost-cutting exercise.

This is in line with a directive sent by the provincial Treasury last month, which instructed all government departments to freeze the advertising of posts from September 16.

The only posts that will be considered by the Health Department are those deemed “critical”, such as senior managers, CEOs, district managers and others called “absolute critical”.

The department was unable to clarify what was deemed “absolute critical” at the time of going to press.

According to a leaked departmental circular, the decision to freeze posts was taken by the Treasury on September 15. It says the decision was communicated to all government institutions by and that the freeze — which was being implemented “for the cost-cutting measures amongst other things” — came into effect immediately.

“All vacant posts which have been advertised on or after September 16 must be withdrawn with immediate effect, with the exception of vacant posts which were advertised before September 16,” it reads in part.

The document was signed by Bongani Shezi, the department’s deputy director-general for corporate management services. It states that the Premier and Finance MEC would now approve all vacant posts to be advertised and filled by the department for the remainder of the financial year. It reminds institutional heads “to be objective and keep in mind the financial problems being faced by the whole of government” when considering motivating for critical posts to be fulfilled.

The DA’s MPL for health Dr Imran Keeka claimed the party was aware of more than 9 800 posts within the department that remain vacant.

“All posts are critical in health care. This is just wrong and should not be accepted by the public,” he said.

Keeka said the immediate effect of the cost-cutting plan would include fewer medical practitioners employed by the government, longer queues, longer emergency response times, and delays in surgical procedures.

THE provincial Treasury will no longer approve “lavish and expensive events”.

A circular signed by Treasury HOD Simiso Magagula in September and sent to all government departments said “cost-cutting measures” must be implemented to “protect the service delivery spending in the province”.

The measures include:

• Freezing of all vacant posts;

• Strictly prohibiting the hiring of VIP services, marquees, toilets, catering, etc;

• No leave conservation payments;

• Departments to undertake a “ghost employee” head-count;

• Reduction of sod-turning ceremonies, launches, conferences, fundraising and marketing exercises;

• No bottled water to be bought;

• Business Class travel only for MECs and HODs; and

• No tracksuits, T-shirts, caps or bags to be handed out.

Magagula said the measures were being implemented as a result of “financial constraints facing the province due to the reduction of the provincial equitable share allocation”.

“The reduction of the allocation was as a result of the decline in the population growth rate of KwaZulu-Natal,” he said.

The circular said the province “needs to implement various measures … to control spending and ensure that departments can absorb the above-budget wage agreement shortfall”.

Treasury officials told The Witness that the cuts were not only intended to meet wage responsibilities, but also service delivery targets and to fall in line with national fiscal tightening.

It said the shortfall for the 2015/16 financial year was R1,7 billion, and would rise to R1,87 billion, R2 billion and R2,2 billion in the next three financial years respectively.

It said the shortfall for the entire country was R12,6 billion for this financial year

Read more on:    pietermaritzburg  |  health

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