Final year medical students can appeal intern placements

EWN reports that according to the Department of Health (DOH), final year medical and health students will be allowed to appeal their intern placement allocations. Dozens of intern doctors and final year students are said to be concerned as they have not yet been allocated a placement for either internship or community service positions in 2018.  On Friday, when the DOH’s website showing placements went live, dozens of students were expecting to finally find out where they would be working next year.

However, a number of them were not allocated positions, while others were placed in areas they had not specified as an option.  Gail Andrews of the DOH indicated that officials were willing to accommodate students who had justifiable reasons.  Accordingly, the website would have a notice posted on Monday to explain the appeal procedure.  Appeals will be given urgent attention.  But, the DOH’s call centre has been instructed not to receive calls, until the situation has been “managed”.  Andrews also said those students who had not received placements could be among those who were not eligible.

by Monique Mortlock

SABC board members share R3.2 million payout

BusinessTech reports that the SABC has paid R3.2 million to its 5-member interim board during their six-month tenure, according to the Sunday Times. It then informed its staff that there would be no salary increases in the new year. The directors earned “almost double that of the previous board”, with the SABC stating the new directors attended more meetings. The payment means each member earned R640,000 for six months of work. “SABC spokesman Kaizer Kganyago said the board had deferred payment until staff salaries had been paid,” stated the report.

Kganyago said the board “had been at Auckland Park almost daily and had held 99 meetings”. The board payments come at a time when the SABC has been declared virtually bankrupt, and requires a multi-billion-rand government bailout. The news also follows a call by Minister of Communications Mmamoloko Kubayi to reduce the number of SABC board members from 12 to nine, and the number needed for a quorum to seven. Acting chief executive officer of the SABC, Nomsa Philiso, scored a R877,000 bonus for the year ended March 2016 as part of a total package of R3.4 million, the City Press reported recently. The paper said that the public broadcaster justified the payment by saying that she earned it through “sheer hard work” despite the company posting a R977 million loss after tax for the 2016/17 financial year.

Paternity leave bill passed in Parliament

BusinessLive reports that the Labour Laws Amendment Bill‚ which was passed by the National Assembly on Tuesday‚ has been hailed as an achievement for parental rights as it allows for all parents to access leave‚ regardless of gender. In terms of the bill‚ an employee who is a parent and is not entitled to maternity leave‚ is entitled to 10 consecutive days’ parental leave when their child is born or when an adoption order is granted.

It also enables an adoptive parent of a child less than two years old to take adoption leave of two months and two weeks consecutively. If there are two adoptive parents‚ one of them is entitled to adoption leave and the other employee is entitled to parental leave of 10 days. The same provision is made for commissioning parents in a surrogate motherhood agreement.

by Ernest Mabuza

PSA threatens court action against Gigaba

Fin24 reports that Finance Minister Malusi Gigaba might face court action from the Public Servants Association (PSA) if he does not agree to the union’s demands to have better representation on the board of the Public Investment Corporation (PIC). PSA’s spokesperson Tahir Maepa indicated that three letters of demand have been written to the minister in this regard without response.  In those letters, the PSA raised concerns over the composition of the PIC board, which it said contravened the PIC Act of 2004.  The PIC acts as the primary investment agent for the Government Employees Pension Fund (GEPF) and other state funds.

The majority (207,000) of the PSA’s members are GEPF members.  The PIC board is appointed by the finance minister, but in terms of the Act he should have due regard for nominations submitted by depositors.  “All we are saying is from where we are sitting, the board is wrongfully constituted.  It does not comply with the Act,” said Maepa.  Currently there are three vacancies on the board.  The PSA wants the minister to amend the memorandum of incorporation to include GEPF representation on the board and for the vacancies to be filled by labour representatives.

by Lameez Omarjee

Taxi drivers talk health

On Monday, the departments of health and transport signed a pledge with the SA National Taxi Council (Santaco) to encourage taxi drivers to prioritise their own health and that of their passengers. This formed part of the launch of the PHILA Taxi Industry Campaign, a first-ever health promotion campaign, targeted at the taxi industry to strengthen and intensify delivery of health and wellness services in the industry.  Addressing scores of taxi drivers at Bosman taxi rank in Tshwane, Health Minister Aaron Motsoaledi called on taxi drivers to change unhealthy lifestyles and prioritise their health.

He called on citizens to think twice about compromising their health and encouraged taxi drivers to regularly go for check-ups and get tested.  The Minister added that government was looking into bringing clinics closer to taxi ranks to enable drivers to get services.  His colleague, Transport Minister Joe Maswanganyi, also emphasised the importance of taking health seriously.  The launch also served as an official collaboration between the PHILA campaign and Santaco’s Operation Hlokomela in an effort to promote and contribute towards responsible behaviour as part of the 2017 World AIDS Day focus.

Ref: SA Govt News Agency

R76m pay to stay at home

The Star reports that the trend of the Gauteng government paying suspended employees to stay at home doing nothing is getting worse, with nearly R76 million of taxpayers’ money blown in the past seven years. The Public Service Commission (PSC) – a government watchdog established in terms of the constitution – has slammed Premier David Makhura’s administration for failing to ensure efficient and effective use of resources on good human resource management and career development practices.

“Gauteng departments have paid a total of R75.7m on salaries of officials placed on precautionary suspension,” reads the PSC’s State of the Public Service in Gauteng 2017 report. The report also revealed that 607 cases of financial misconduct amounting to over R1.26billion were reported in Gauteng government departments. According to the PSC, Gauteng government departments are not complying with the Public Service Co-ordinating Bargaining Council’s resolution on disciplinary codes and procedures for the public service. The code states that disciplinary hearings must be completed within a short period of time. The PSC also found that Gauteng government departments rarely lay criminal charges against officials guilty of financial misconduct.

by Loyiso Sidimba

No disciplinary action after municipal boss convicted of fraud

DispatchLive reports that seven months after being convicted on three counts of fraud, Senqu local municipality municipal manager Mxolisi Yawa is still serving in his position. Yawa, was convicted along with his personal assistant Octavia Bambilawu, 28, her mother and business partner Elza, 60, and former CFO Chris Venter, 53. The four will be sentenced on February 6 in the Komani Magistrate’s Court.

Municipal spokesman Pheello Oliphant said Yawa had been acquitted on the other charges brought against him. He explained that while Yawa had been placed on special leave after his conviction, after seeking legal advice council had decided to rescind this decision. This is despite Section 57(a)(3) of the Municipal Systems Act which states that “where the alleged transgressor is found guilty of financial misconduct after the disciplinary proceedings, he or she may not be re-employed in any municipality for a period of 10 years”.

By Zolile Menzelwa


Steve Biko Hospital ends security contract

News24 reports that the Gauteng Department of Health has terminated the contract of a private security company “with immediate effect” after its employees staged a protest at the Steve Biko Academic Hospital on Monday. The department said the termination of the contract was dictated by the unprotected strike over an alleged salary dispute and the security guards’ “unbecoming behaviour”.

The group of guards used stones and rubble to block the entrance to the hospital in Pretoria and vandalised signage and vegetation.  The blockade lasted around an hour before it was cleared by police.  The guards claimed that they had not been paid by their employer.  Gauteng Health MEC Gwen Ramokgopa said in a statement she was pleased that the hospital’s management had acted swiftly to manage the situation.  “The new security company has been brought on board and they have [taken up] their responsibilities,” she indicated.

by Mxolisi Mngadi

Safety concerns lead to shut down of production line at Pelindaba nuclear plant

The Citizen reports that the National Nuclear Regulator (NNR) shut down a radio isotope cancer treatment production line at the Pelindaba nuclear plant 10 days ago because of safety concerns. The entire facility was not shut down. Pharmaceutical firm NTP Radioisotopes, operated by the SA Nuclear Energy Corporation (Necsa), is responsible for manufacturing radioisotopes used for cancer treatment and also exports products to other countries.

The company has since suspended three senior executives.  The regulator’s spokesperson Gino Moonsamy said:  “We found that safety procedures were violated.  We were lucky that there was no over exposure to workers.  The site is continually inspected and monitored, and the company also has its own measures in place.”  The production line has not yet re-opened.  The regulator will meet with company representatives this week to monitor progress.

by Eric Naki and Yadhana Jadoo

Police monitor protest action by security guards

EWN reports that a protest was taking place on Monday morning at the entrance of the Steve Biko Academic Hospital in Pretoria, apparently by group of private security guards. It was not immediately apparent what the protest was about, but pictures posted on social media showed the entrance to the hospital being blocked.

Earlier, the protesters barricaded the gate, preventing access to the hospital, but police then dispersed the crowd.  Police spokesperson Kay Makhubele said officers were monitoring the situation and added:  “At the moment, the situation is calm as they are engaging with the management of the hospital, however, we’ll be continuing to monitor the area.”

by Mia Lindeque