South Africa: Over 5,000 Eastern Cape Health Workers Will Be Without Jobs At the End of This Month


The provincial health department says it has run out of funds and cannot renew the contracts

The contracts of over 5,000 community health workers in the Eastern Cape will be terminated at the end of March.

The provincial health department says it has run out of funds and cannot renew the contracts until it sources additional money.

The workers were employed on contract under the National Disaster Fund and assisted with Covid-19 efforts.

The unions are now demanding answers from the department as other provinces have renewed the contracts of their health workers.

The contracts of more than 5,000 Community Healthcare Workers (CHW) in the Eastern Cape will be terminated at the end of March.

Sizwe Kupelo, spokesperson for the Eastern Cape Health Department, says the terminations were necessary because the department had run out funds. He says the workers were employed through the National Disaster Fund to assist with Covid-19 efforts. “The department is trying to source funding, but at this stage the contracts are coming to an end,” he said on Wednesday.

Noxolo Mafumana at Thanduxolo Clinic in Motherwell NU 10 is one of the 5,489 contracted health workers who face losing their jobs this month.

Mafumana said she was shocked to receive her letter last Thursday that the contract she signed nine months ago would be terminated.

“We have done a lot of work as frontliners. We were screening and tracing the patients for Covid-19. Also searching for treatment defaulters. But now the department dumps us like disposable nappies,” she said.

Mafumana said during her employment, she contracted Covid-19 and had to be quarantined without payment. “The R3,500 per month was just enough for a few days to feed my unemployed husband, three kids and two other relatives.

“I don’t know where my next meal will come from. Covid had opened many doors for poor people like me but the Department is taking away our daily bread,” she said.

Meanwhile, the union leaders are questioning how other provinces like KwaZulu-Natal and Gauteng managed to extend the contracts of their CHWs.

The National Education, Health and Allied Workers’ Union (NEHAWU) and South African Federation of Trade Unions (SAFTU) are calling for the contracts to be extended as the country expects a possible third wave of Covid-19.