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South Africa: ‘Only blacks’ medical programme ripped as racist

The South African province of KwaZulu-Natal has attempted to create 100 new positions in a training program for physicians reserved exclusively for black candidates.

Published: January 15, 2019, 8:18 am

    The racial quota was not met because of the lack of black applicants. The quota has been criticised as “racist” by opposition parties.

    As there were not enough black applicants, 21 positions were offered to non-black South Africans. The registrar programme, which spans fours years, trains doctors to become specialists.

    But the provincial health authority remained unforgiving despite its failure to do anything about its policies, saying, “South Africa, including KwaZulu-Natal, remains an uneven society with limited self-development opportunities for the historically oppressed.”

    Spokeswoman Ncumisa Mafunda added that the measure should “address these imbalances of the past”. But in the past – under Apartheid – black hospitals were staffed by black doctors.

    Mafunda said the racial discriminatory move was a “government imperative” and “the morally and socially right thing to do”. She told TimesLIVE that South Africa had limited opportunities for the self-development of blacks.

    Leaked documents revealed that the department was aiming to train a total of 366 black doctors and had already recruited 32 Indian, 12 white and four mixed race registrars, but need a further 100 black medics to meet racial employment equity targets.

    South Africa’s medical schools graduate some 1 800 students a year, according Martin Veller, who chairs the South African Committee of Medical Deans. At least two-thirds of these students are already black racial quota entrants.

    Mary de Haas, member of Medical Rights Advocacy Network (Meran) said the department has been mismanaging of their budget: “I think it is a very bad way of doing it. It’s not really fair to sideline people [whites] who have done extremely well.”

    De Haas added: “It [the health department] spent money sending students to Cuba instead of building local capacity, which would have sorted this out years ago.”

    More than 500 black students who spent six years in Cuba as part of the Nelson Mandela/Fidel Castro Medical Training programme, returned last year. But Steve Pheeha, an alumni of the programme, said the students are ill-prepared. “[In Cuba] you rarely see a person go into hospital with bullet wounds. At Bara [Chris Hani Baragwanath Academic, Africa’s largest black hospital built by the Apartheid government], you may see 10 people come in with these wounds in a matter of hours,” he explained.

    Last year, Health Minister Aaron Motsoaledi told Business Day the programme has become a headache for both countries and a decision had been taken in the National Health Council to scale it back. Critics have questioned the wisdom of training black doctors in Cuba at a far greater cost.

    A spokesman for the Democratic Alliance, an opposition party to the ruling African National Congress, argued that this policy is “a departure from our constitutional values ​​and racist”.

    The initiative by the authorities to appoint only blacks was also sharply criticised on Twitter. Many openly called it racist. “Let me understand – you should practice racism to eradicate racism – sounds logical,” one Twitter user noted.

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    • AnotherView

      The historically oppressed are now becoming the white populatioon!

    • Mavis Vermicast

      Merry Christmas Mr Lawrence

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