Older doctors walk away from public health service

News24 reports that the public health sector is bleeding older healthcare professional providers (HPPs), who are leaving the state to practice in the private sector.  However, they aren’t staying too long in the private sector either, with many opting to deregister their practice numbers and hang up their white coats before they reach the age of 50.  This is according to the Board of Healthcare Funders of Southern Africa’s latest report on the distribution of HPPs registered on the practice code numbering system (PCNS) during the period between January 2000 to December last year.

For a healthcare provider to claim from a medical scheme they need to be registered on the PCNS.  The report noted an increasing number of healthcare professionals registering on the PCNS, from 36,000 in 2000 to 54,800 last year, representing a 52% increase.  This has greatly increased the proportion of HPPs per patient in the private sector.  Surprisingly, however, this increase of professionals was in tandem with an increase in their average age in most disciplines.  This unexpected observation was “worrying” to the report’s author, Charlton Murove; as he said it suggested that there had been an increase in the number of older professionals moving from state facilities to the private sector.  The report noted a disproportionate number of HPPs practising in the private sector compared with the public sector, particularly in terms of geographical location and population needs.  This disproportionate distribution was acute in more specialised disciplines.

by Vuyo Mkize

Wild Coast special economic zone in Mthatha could create jobs

Fin24 reports that thousands of jobs are on the cards for the Eastern Cape, with plans to develop the Wild Coast special economic zone in Mthatha now gaining momentum. The zone will be developed at the Mthatha Airport development precinct, just 10km away from Mthatha, the seat of the King Sabata Dalindyebo municipality, which covers Mthatha and Mqanduli towns.  The project, which will take advantage of the newly revamped Mthatha Airport, will result in a number of government departments and entities, including the private sector, working together to make it a reality.  The zone falls under the trade and industry department’s Coega Development Corporation, the economic development department, the environmental development and tourism department, the King Sabata Dalindyebo municipality and the OR Tambo district municipality.

Nero Lisani, spokesperson for the economic development, environmental affairs and tourism department, said in the first phase of construction it was anticipated that 6,420 direct job opportunities would be created and then 2,578 operational jobs.  The zone would focus on developing value chains in the agro sector taking into account the comparative and competitive advantage of the region, Lisani indicated.  All that was left now was for economic development, environmental affairs and tourism department MEC Oscar Mabuyane to submit a final application for the economic zone to Minister of Trade and Industry Rob Davies for consideration.

by Lubabalo Ngcukana

Barberton Mines concludes wage negotiations with unions

MiningWeekly reports that gold mining group Pan African Resources’ Barberton Mines has successfully concluded a three-year wage agreement with the National Union of Mineworkers (NUM) and Uasa. The agreement provides for an average yearly wage increase of about 6.5% and 5.5% for NUM and Uasa members, respectively.

These unions represent the majority of employees at Pan African’s Barberton operations, in Mpumalanga. Barberton Mines does not participate in the collective bargaining process under the Minerals Council, where negotiations between unions and AngloGold Ashanti, Sibanye-Stillwater, Harmony Gold and Village Main Reef are currently under way.

by Marleny Arnoldi

Unprotected strike halts production at Vametco vanadium mine

MiningWeekly reports that production has been temporarily stopped at the Vametco vanadium mine, near Brits, in the North West, owing to unprotected industrial action, Aim-listed Bushveld Minerals reported on Friday.

The industrial action, which started on September 5, is in relation to historic legacy issues and compensation structures that precede Bushveld’s acquisition of Vametco in December last year. Bushveld said on Friday that it continues to engage with the union representatives and that it is hopeful of a speedy resolution and resumption of operations.

by Tasneem Bulbulia

Workers protest on Thursday over Sasol empowerment scheme

BusinessLive reports that about 2,000 members of trade union Solidarity protested on Thursday against a plan by chemicals company Sasol to allocate shares only to its black employees. Solidarity, a union mainly made up of white Afrikaners, said that its 6,300 members working at Sasol’s plant in Secunda, Mpumalanga, feel “alienated” and “powerless”. “We can’t address an old system of exclusion by a future system of new exclusion,” Solidarity leader Dirk Hermann said.

“The question is, when does affirmative action and empowerment go too far? There must be parameters.” The union has demanded that the blacks-only share scheme be extended to include white workers or that an alternative scheme is developed. Sasol has said that the new share scheme will empower members of previously disadvantaged communities in SA, where racial inequality remains high more than two decades after the end of apartheid rule. Senior executives from Sasol accepted a list of demands from Solidarity.

by Agency Staff
Ref: AFP

Telkom, three universities launch SA4IR to develop a national Fourth Industrial Revolution agenda

Engineering News reports that telecoms company Telkom and the universities of the Witwatersrand (Wits), Johannesburg (UJ) and Fort Hare on Wednesday launched SA4IR, a national response to the Fourth Industrial Revolution. The partnership seeks to build an inclusive developmental future for South Africans by stimulating a national dialogue and developing a national agenda in response to the impact of the Fourth Industrial Revolution on the country.  The Fourth Industrial Revolution is set to dramatically change how humans interact with technology, and how humans express themselves, communicate and engage.

SA4IR will explore the impact of the Fourth Industrial Revolution on the economy and the new digital economy, higher education and the future of work, inequality and society and the State.  “We need to train scholars to deal with the challenges of the twenty-first century, some which we may not yet have encountered,” said Wits vice-chancellor Professor Adam Habib.  He added that the biggest challenge with introducing technologies in SA was insufficient skill sets at schooling level, technical level and postgraduate level.  In the next six months, as a starting point, SA4IR will host a summit to bring together stakeholders, determine challenges and then start developing a comprehensive strategy for the mining, healthcare, manufacturing and services sectors alike to respond to the revolution.

Gold mining wage negotiations continue

Mining Weekly reports that gold producers AngloGold Ashanti and Sibanye-Stillwater on Wednesday continued talks with unions regarding wage increases and conditions of employment.  The parties continued to engage in bilateral discussions and good progress was made, the Minerals Council South Africa (previously known as the Chamber of Mines) said.  Discussions between the three unions and AngloGold Ashanti and Sibanye-Stillwater will resume again on Wednesday, 12 September 2018

Employee who was ‘in the room’ where fatal fire started could provide answers about the cause

Timeslive reports that a government employee who was “in the room” where a fatal fire broke out in downtown Johannesburg on Wednesday will be interviewed‚ Gauteng Premier David Makhura indicated.  While the cause of the fire at the Bank of Lisbon building in the Johannesburg CBD is unknown‚ Makhuru said on Wednesday that the unnamed staff member could hold the answers.  Three firefighters died in the fire‚ one of them after apparently falling from the 23rd floor.  The building houses the Departments of Health‚ Human Settlements‚ and Co-operative Governance and Traditional Affairs.  Earlier‚ Makhura’s administration confirmed that the building did not comply with occupation‚ health and safety standards‚ scoring just over 20%.

A report on the Bank of Lisbon building – and as well as other government buildings – was presented to the provincial government just last week.  Makhura said the provincial government assessed and decommissioned buildings annually.  Eight buildings in total were deemed unsafe.  The provincial government will now find temporary offices for all staff in the eight unsafe buildings‚ with Makhura saying the process of finding new buildings would be fast-tracked.  They aim to have new offices for the three departments housed in the Bank of Lisbon building by Monday.

by Nico Gous

Fund calls for full state control over where private sector doctors work

BusinessLive reports that according to the Board of Healthcare Funders (BHF), the government should consider regulating where private sector doctors and specialists work, in order to distribute their services more evenly across the country. “The disproportionate distribution of health-care professionals is a concern.  Better planning and regulations are required to enforce efficient allocation of human resources … It is therefore imperative that the certificate of need be revisited,” said the BHF, a key player for medical schemes, in a report released on Friday.  The controversial suggestion is unlikely to sit well with doctors, who previously persuaded the Constitutional Court (ConCourt) to set aside regulations requiring them to obtain a certificate of need, or ministerial approval, prior to practising.

While the National Health Act contains provisions enabling the minister to regulate this arena, he has not done so since the ConCourt case.  But the issue is very much still alive, as the Competition Commission’s health market inquiry recently recommended in its draft report that the health department develop a new framework for licensing all health-care facilities, based on a national plan that considers public and private sector capacity and the needs of the population to be served.  While its emphasis is on private hospitals, licensing could be extended beyond acute facilities over time.  The BHF’s Charlton Munrove said other approaches to licensing could be the creation of incentives to get healthcare professionals where they are needed.

by Tamar Kahn

Death toll rises to eight in Rheinmetall Denel

TimesLive reports that eight people have been confirmed dead following a huge explosion at the Rheinmetall Denel munitions depot in Somerset West near Cape Town.

City of Cape Town fire chief Theo Layne confirmed the blast:  “Fire and Rescue responded at 15:45. On arrival it was ascertained that an explosion had occurred and staff of the factory was extinguishing the subsequent fire.”  He said all missing workers had been accounted for.

Ref: ANA