Limpopo authorities have warned all employees within the provincial Department of Health to stay away from a night vigil and march organised as part of a sustained effort to remove Health MEC Phophi Ramathuba or face the no work, no pay principle.
The circular, which African Times has seen, cautioned the workers against participating in a protest march to be held at Premier Stan Mathabatha’s offices at the provincial headquarters in Polokwane on Friday.
The march, organised by the National Education, Health and Allied Workers Union (Nehawu), will be preceded by a night vigil scheduled to start at 5 pm at the same premises on Thursday.
The union has accused Ramathuba of running down the provincial health department, turning a blind eye to officials who rigged the outcomes of job interviews, and employing young hospital managers who undermine nurses and doctors, causing them to leave earlier than they intended.
Nehawu decided to stage the march at Mathabatha’s offices because Ramathuba successfully interdicted them against any protests at her offices or any branch of the provincial health department in the province, including hospitals.
“Kindly note that healthcare provision in terms of the law is designated as ‘essential services,’ meaning that employees in this sector are not allowed to engage in any form of strike or industrial action.
“Such action will constitute an unprotected strike, and the principle of ‘no work, no pay’ must be applied for the day(s) not worked as provided for in [the law],” wrote Matome Mawasha, deputy director general of corporate services.
The memo was circulated to all deputy director generals, chief directors, district executive managers and directors, hospital CEOs, and staff members, among others.
The top management was also instructed to take a roll call of workers on Friday.
Earlier this month, Polokwane High Court Judge Naude Odendaal gave an order favouring three applicants, including Ramathuba, Pietersburg Provincial Hospital and Pietersburg Provincial Hospital chief executive officer (CEO) Dr Moloko Masipa, respectively.
The interdict was directed at Nehawu and 13 individuals who have been agitating about alleged corruption within the department and the rigging of jobs at the provincial hospital.
“The [respondents] are interdicted from making the premises of the applicant ungovernable [or] inciting violence, assaulting any member of the public, patients and/or staff members of the applicant.
“[They are] interdicted from organising or participating in any protests, protest meetings and protest marches at the second applicant’s premises and any of the offices of the first applicant and/or within a radius of 1km of any of the facilities or offices of the applicant without the necessary approval by the CEO of the hospital,” ruled Odendaal.
She gave Nehawu until 12 October to demonstrate why the order should not be final.
Nehawu has, however, decided to continue with their call for Ramathuba to be removed.
“Everything considered, including the deepening socioeconomic hardship our members are going through due to her unilateral change of their working condition, lack of strategic oversight and leadership, declining hope among workers and the swirling scandalous revelations of corruption, the PEC has come to [one conclusion].
“It can no longer be denied that the leadership of MEC Phophi Ramathuba in this department of health is now untenable and she must do the right thing. The PEC resolved to embark on a night vigil on [Thursday] and a protest march on [Friday] and every two weeks going forward,” said Nehawu in a statement.
The union, which is divided within itself, according to internal sources, accused Ramathuba of overseeing the under-expenditure of the provincial department’s coffers, failing to fill funded vacant posts, and causing demoralised staff members to quit within 90 days of being employed.