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Foreign Workforce Management Programme: Staff unqualified for regulating foreign-qualified workers

Mike Waters, Shadow Minister of Health
25 October 2010

A reply to a DA parliamentary question reveals that there is only one member of the Health Department’s Foreign Workforce Management Programme (FWMP) who has a degree in a health-related field, and one member does not even have matric.

A copy of the reply follows below.

The DA will be asking the health minister to review the composition of the FWMP and ensure that it is staffed with people with the specialised knowledge of the health profession that this job requires. At the moment the FWMP seems only to impede improvements to health care. While South Africa cannot train even a fraction of the health workers it needs, the FWMP has developed a reputation for enormous inefficiency and for bias against foreign-qualified workers.  

Other than one person with a Masters in Public Health, every other member of the committee is completely unqualified for this job. One member has only a grade 11. Another member has a Call Centre management certificate, and another has a Certificate of Competence in Computer Literacy. This seems to be another example of the ANC’s cadre deployment policy, at the expense of ordinary South Africans in need of decent health care.  

The FWMP is notorious for long delays, sometimes of three years or more, in deciding on whether to accept or reject applications from foreign-qualified workers to work in South Africa. It is also notorious for rejecting applications on highly questionable grounds – recently the application of a British nurse with a Masters in nursing was rejected because her degree was too “specialised”.

The FWMP is responsible for applying the policy decided on by the National Health Council on foreign health workers. Within these parameters, it has a great deal of discretion about who to accept. Unfortunately for South Africa, its bias seems to be towards finding reasons to reject applications, in an environment where South Africans stand in queues for hours or days because of shortages of doctors, nurses and specialists at public hospitals.

The details of the members of the FWMP are as follows:

Ms. PFF Zulu- Master of Public Health
Ms. HAC Human- Matric
Ms. ZC Lutchmia- Grade 11
Ms. D Sibiya- Matric
Ms. KJ Mlambo- B.Admin
Ms. S Vosloo- Matric
Mr. M Mpeqeka- Matric and Call Centre Certificate
Ms. B Machebele- Matric Certificate in Criminal Justice System and Certificate of Competence in Computer Literacy
Mr. A Mohamed Ali- Diploma in Human Resources Management and Training

Parliamentary Reply:



Mr M Waters (DA) to ask the Minister of Health:

(a) How many persons are employed by the sub-directorate: foreign workforce management (FWM), (b) what are the (i) names and (ii) qualifications of each person, (c) what are the responsibilities of the FWM, (d) how many applications have been received by the FWM, (e) from which countries were they received, (f) what type of health care professionals have applied in each case and (g) how many of these applications are pending before the FWM for a period of (i) 0 – 14, (ii) 15 – 28, (iii) 29 – 56, (iv) 57 – 70 days and (v) 71 days and longer?

(a)    Nine (9).

(c)    (i) and (ii)    Ms PFF Zulu         – Master of Public Health
            Ms HAC Human         – Matric
            Ms ZC Lutchmia         – Grade 11
            Ms D Sibiya             – Matric
            Ms KJ Mlambo         – B Admin
            Ms S Vosloo             – Matric
            Mr M Mpeqeka         – Matric and Call Centre Certificate
Ms B Machebele     – Matric, Certificate in Criminal Justice System and Certificate of Competence in Computer Literacy  
Mr A Mohamed Alli    – Diploma in Human Resources Management and Training

(c)    The responsibilities of the FWM sub-directorate are:

•    the overall management of the foreign health professionals, recruited in terms of Government-to-Government Agreement (i.e recruitment, employment, conditions of service, registration and legal residential status, managing and monitoring the distribution and migration) within the Public Health Sector;

•    regulation of recruitment processes, employment procedures, migration patterns and endorsement and certification towards residential status of foreign health professionals in the Republic of South Africa (in compliance with Immigration legislation);

•    management of foreign health workforce (in accordance with the policy as approved by the National Health Council) of foreign health professional migrating to and within South Africa;

•    recruitment of suitably qualified persons with proven skills and experience, with preference to recruitment from countries where the professional training and education meet the minimum requirements for registration in South Africa. The primary aim is to allow for recruitment from abroad to deploy health professionals with the relevant skills and competencies to work in under-serviced/remote areas of South Africa.

(d)    A total of 3 319 applications from 1 937 applicants were received for the period January 2010 up to 31 August 2010. Some applicants submitted more than one application during this period, as the process requires a number of different stages (e.g writing pre-registration examinations, seeking employment, endorsement of a job offer for employment and registration).

(e)    Algeria, America, Angola, Argentina, Australia, the Bahamas, Bangladesh, Belgium, Benin, Botswana, Brazil, Burkina Faso, Burundi, Cameroon, Canada, China, Colombia, Cuba, Czech Republic, Denmark, Democratic Republic of Congo, Egypt, Eritrea, Ethiopia, France, Georgia, Germany, Ghana, Greece, Guinea, Hungary, India, Indonesia, Iran, Iraq, Ireland, Italy, Ivory Coast, Jordan, Kenya, Korea, Lesotho, Libya, Malawi, Malaysia, Mali, Mauritius, Mozambique, Mynmar, Namibia, Nepal, Netherlands, New Zealand, Nigeria, Pakistan, Palestine, Philippines, Poland, Portugal, Russia, Rwanda, South African permanent residents and citizens, Saudi Arabia, Senegal, Serbia, Seychelles, Somalia, Sri-Lanka, Sudan, Swaziland, Switzerland, Tanzania, Uganda, Ukraine, United Kingdom, United States of America.

(f)    Basic Ambulance Assistants, Bio-Chemists, Biokineticists, Biomedical Technologists, Care givers, Clinical Associates, Clinical Psychologists, Counsellors, Dental Assistants, Dental Therapists, Dentists, Dieticians, Educational Psychologists, Nursing Educators, Environmental Health Officers, Medical Doctors, Medical Laboratory Scientists, Medical Laboratory Technicians, Medical Technologists, Nurses, Occupational Therapists, Paramedics, Physiotherapists, Psychologists, Radiographers, Research Pharmacologists, Social Workers, Speech Therapists.

(g)    (i)    230;
    (ii)    26;
(iii)    26;
(iv)    14;
(v)    89.