Note on article: It should be noted that the Khayelitsha Development Forum is a body of political appointees of DA and ANC Ward Councillors, is not democratically elected, and therefore does not represent the interests of the Khayelitsha community. The Mandela Park Backyarders are an elected community group that conducts democratic AGMs every year.
January 10 2012 at 01:34pm – IOL – SIPOKAZI FOKAZI
Residents have threatened to block staff from entering the new Khayelitsha District Hospital if concerns about recruitment processes are not resolved.
About 100 people protested outside the hospital yesterday, demanding that the provincial Department of Health address their grievances. A meeting has been arranged for today at the hospital with the residents, the Khayelitsha Development Forum and the Department of Health.
The residents, who protested under the banner of a civil society group – Mandela Park Backyarders – slammed the employment of outsiders in the new hospital, saying that despite hundreds of jobs being offered, locals had not been given a slice of the cake.
The group’s representative, Xolani Krweqe, told the Cape Argus that residents were upset at the lack of community involvement by authorities.
He said the department had advertised more than 500 jobs in November but residents had not been shortlisted, despite massive unemployment.
“About 40 000 Khayelitsha residents applied for those jobs, which were mainly administrative and general work, but I can tell you now not even a percentage of local residents have been employed at the hospital.”
Krweqe said the locals who had been employed were those who had been working for the department for some time and who had been transferred to Khayelitsha.
“This is not fair. Khayelitsha is dogged by unemployment,” Krweqe said, adding that only employment “would give locals a decent life”.
In a protest that lasted about two hours, residents demanded to meet the management of the hospital. They then handed over a list of their demands, which included that:
l Sixty percent of employees be from Khayelitsha.
l There be consultation and restarting of the recruitment process.
l MEC for Health Theuns Botha address their grievances.
Sithembiso Magubane, spokesman for the department, said 329 posts for nursing and general staff, such as household staff and cleaners, had been advertised at the end of November. The department received more than 70 000 applications, he said.
He denied allegations that the department had not consulted residents.
“The department has been, and continues to be, in consultation with the community through the community forum,” he said.
Magubane said the hospital management had since addressed the picketers, but he declined to give details.
He said the department was following recruitment and selection procedures in filling the advertised posts.
He said about 45 enrolled nursing assistants and 25 enrolled nurses were assuming their duties, the first of them yesterday.
The multimillion-rand, 230-bed hospital is almost complete. It is scheduled to open in March.