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Temporary reprieve for healthcare staff

Ntsebeng Motsoeli

HEALTHCARE workers contracted by the Ministry of Health and Global Fund have finally received their salaries, which had not been paid for the past two months.
Last month, some of the disgruntled workers employed at the National Health Training College, complained to the Sunday Express that they had not been told why their salaries had not been paid for April and May.
The Sunday Express has established that the employees were supposed to be remunerated by both the Ministry of Health and Global Fund, which is the international financing institution that fights AIDS, tuberculosis and malaria through partnership, transparency, constant learning and results-based funding.

Reads part of the contracts: “Your salary will be provided by the Ministry of Health and Global Fund Grant Support. The Ministry of Health will provide your salary in Year 2 from August 2013 to October 2013 and Year 3 from February 2014 to September 2014.

“Global Fund grant support for the salary in Year 2 will be from November 2012 to July 2013 and in Year 3 from November 2013 to January 2014 periods.”
However, the Sunday Express has since been told the workers were eventually paid their outstanding salaries two weeks ago, but are not sure if they would get the pay this month.

The Ministry of Health Principal Secretary (PS), Lefu Manyokole had said, in a previous interview with the Sunday Express, that the money which had been allocated for payment of the salaries in question, was being held up in other ministries and that lengthy processes would be taken to release it.

Mr Monykole also said some delays had been experienced in incorporating the employees into the public service, but promised the workers would be eventually paid their outstanding salaries.
However, some of the employees who spoke to the Sunday Express on condition of anonymity last week, expressed relief at being finally paid but still expressed concern at their “uncertain” future.
“We were happy when we finally got the money, but we are still not sure if we will be paid this month. No one is saying anything to us.
“ We don’t know what will happen to us when our contracts end in September,” one of the employees said.

The delay, the workers said, had plunged them into debt — a situation they said would take time to rectify.
“Some of us have been inconvenienced by not getting our salaries for those months, because we are the only breadwinners in our families.

“We could not pay our rent and accounts, so we had to borrow heavily to settle these very important obligations. We even had to go to loan-sharks to borrow money to pay for things such as transport to come to work and look after our families, and all these debts came at very heavy interest rates. It is going to take a long time for most of us to recover from this predicament,” said another worker.
Contacted about the latest development, Mr Manyokole said he would not comment on the issue anymore.

“We don’t want to talk about the issue anymore, suffice to say we are still working hard to negotiate with other offices to find money to pay these employees’ salaries until September and maybe beyond,” Mr Manyokole said.

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