On 9 April 2021 a meeting of Transvaal CHWs took place at the House of Movement and consisted of parallel meetings between Mpumalanga (MP) CHWs and North West (NW) Community Healthcare Workers (CHWs), facilitated by the Gauteng Community Health Care Forum (the GCHC Forum). The three provinces discussed their plan on how to mobilise in their provinces. MP and NW cdes requested that the GCHCF Forum assist them by organising a road show in different places in their provinces for visibility and to share with CHWs how to mobilise and engage carers to join this struggle.
On 27 April 2021 the GCHC Forum travelled to Mpumalanga for a three-day roadshow to support and assist Mpumalanga comrades in their recruitment drive and engage carers about why it’s important for them to form their own organisation as Mpumalanga CHWs. The GCHC Forum delegated its two organisers to undertake the roadshow and they worked alongside two Mpumalanga interim committee members. The roadshow team visited seven clinics which fall under the Nkangala District. The roadshow was very interesting, with challenges but also with achievements.
Out of the seven clinics, CHWs at four clinics joined and became Mpumalanga (MP) Forum members. The total number of CHWs who joined during the roadshow is 61. The GCHC Forum is very pleased with the achievements as it’s the beginning of the road to the MP Forum for CHWs and their struggle. The CHWs who joined the MP Forum spoke about how they have faith in the fight of their struggle because they have seen how the GCHC Forum has fought for the status of CHWs in Gauteng and they hope the GCHC Forum will fight with them as it has done in Gauteng.
The new members of the MP Forum also spoke about the challenges they are facing under the Mpumalanga Department of Health and how there is always the threat of losing their jobs when they want to fight for their rights. The Mpumalanga carers explained that ever since the GCHC Forum fought for them to be brought into clinics at the bargaining council in 2019, the DOH officials have been treating them badly – they have been working with no rights as workers. But the carers felt that now they won’t be afraid to fight the Mpumalanga health system because they are Forum members and part of the CHWs struggle for permanent employment.
Although the MP Forum managed to get new members during the roadshow in Mpumalanga, it had some challenges with mobilising and recruiting CHWs in some clinics. Clinic managers refused to allow CHWs to meet with the GCHC & MP Forum and they threatened CHWs with dismissals if they met with the Forum members. As the GCHC and MP Forums, we have a right to recruit and mobilise CHWs anywhere and everywhere in South Africa. No clinic manager has the right to stop CHWs from organising and belonging to any organisation that they feel is right for them.
As part of the roadshow programme in Mpumalanga, the team met with two NGOs who have been side-lined by the Mpumalanga Health Department from the persal (payment) system absorption process. These NGOs requested assistance from the GCHC Forum with this matter. The GCHC Forum promised that it would assist these two NGOs in the ways that it can and asked that they look for any other NGOs who are in a similar position as themselves so that they can also be part of the campaign since they share the same struggle.
The GCHC Forum has promised the Mpumalanga CHW comrades that it will come back again for another roadshow to visit other clinics. The GCHC Forum urged the Mpumalanga comrades to engage other clinics within the district and talk to CHWs about why they should become members of the MP Forum.
The Forum has also noted that during its roadshow some officials and other organisations have started speaking ill of and spreading lies about the GCHC Forum. We condemn the behaviour of these officials and the organisations who are trying to stop the Forum assisting CHWs to organise. As the GCHC Forum our only aim is to fight for the rights of CHWs, and the well-being of our community. CHWs in all provinces have the right to be made permanent workers employed by the Department of Health!
Re Tla Dula Re Direla Setshaba!!!
This article was submitted on 5 May 2021. You may republish this article, so long as you credit the authors and Karibu! Online (www.Karibu.org.za), and do not change the text. Please include a link back to the original article.