DA in Gauteng calls on social development dept to fill vacant posts

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  • The DA says the vacancy rate at Gauteng's social development department is concerning.
  • The party says there is a vacancy rate of 50% for occupational therapists.
  • The department says recruitment was concluded, but some appointments were declined. 

The DA in Gauteng says it is concerned by the provincial social development department's high vacancy rate for critical skills, despite the rate of unemployed graduates in the province. 

In a statement on Wednesday, the party called on the social development MEC, Morakane Mosupyoe, to ensure that all funded critical skills positions, such as social workers, occupational therapists, psychologists and professional nurses, were urgently filled.

It said, according to the department's 2019/20 annual report, there was a vacancy rate of 50% for occupational therapists, 36% for psychologists and 26% for professional nurses. 

"There was also a shortage of 166 social worker and related professionals. Failure by the department to fill these very critical and specialised posts had a severe impact on the lives of the vulnerable, who could not afford private services, particularly the residents of informal settlements.

The DA's Refiloe Nt'sekhe said:

This is especially concerning, considering these vacancies were, in the financial year a month before Covid-19 hit the shores of South Africa, setting up the provincial healthcare system for failure.

Nt'sekhe added that it was worrying the department reprioritised R91 million from the compensation of employees, in its special adjustment budget for the 2020/21 financial year, during the middle of the Covid-19 storm.

"Gauteng is facing a severe shortage of social workers as the department has, for several years, failed to meet its employment target in this regard." 

The provincial department said its recruitment processes concluded in February - but, because some appointments were declined, the posts had to be re-advertised. 

It told News24 that it had one post for a psychologist and occupational therapist per institution (13 institutions). A total of seven occupational therapist posts were filled as well as six psychologist posts filled.

"It must be noted that all posts for psychologists and occupational therapists were recently filled, but some were declined after an appointment offer. Therefore, this is continuously creating a vacancy rate gap because of scarce skills. The department has enough budget to fill these posts.

"Regarding the above posts, including nurses, it must be noted that all posts are part of the recruitment post-filling plan, and critical posts for core services are always prioritised," the department's spokesperson, Feziwe Ndwayana, said.

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