Transcript of Human Development Cluster Programme of Action media briefing, chaired by Minister of Basic Education, Angie Motshekga, at Imbizo Media Centre, Cape Town
11 March 2010
Panel: Angie Motshekga, Minister of Basic Education; Aaron Motsoaledi, Minister of Health; Mary Metcalfe, Director-General (DG) for Higher Education and Training; Bobby Soobrayan, DG for Basic Education; Paul Mashatile, Deputy Minister of Arts and Culture
Statement - http://www.info.gov.za/speeches/2010/10031115351003.htm
Questions and answers:
Journalist: This is a question for the Health Minister. With regard to the Cabinet statement earlier today about plans to have 15 million people tested for HIV by 2011, can you tell us what measures you are putting in place to make sure the health system can cope with all of those people in terms of the care, support and treatment they might need and budget too.
Journalist: Mr Motsoaledi, the NHI - when you say you are looking for a date for the inter-ministerial committee to look at it, does that mean you have a new draft of the policy? If you don’t like the curative model, could you just explain what sort of a model you do like? On the NHI, the original proposal was looking at moving away from a clinic-based system to a doctor-based system in the sense that it would be a GP-based system rather than a first port of call for a sick person being the clinic. Given that Government spend what it has on clinics, do you not think that there is a risk of all of that money actually just going down the drain when people start using private practitioners instead?
Journalist: During your address to the National Council of Provinces (NCOP) two weeks ago you said the problem with regard to none performance at schools is not about resources but it’s a question of ill discipline. I suppose you meant educators not being disciplined enough, not coming to school on time and leaving early and that culture appears not to be dissipating. Do you think you don’t have enough mechanisms to enforce discipline among educators who don’t do their work properly and not coming to school on time and to execute their duties? To the DG of Higher Education, in terms of the Student Funding there was a report about - you can correct me on the figure - R48 million was returned to NFSAS because institutions could not find eligible students who could be given those loans or bursaries. Without pre-empting the recommendations of the report that is going to be announced soon, does it address the problem of funding in terms of defects, when allocation has been made institutions don’t return the money back to NFSAS so that all students that are needy are being attended to. I see that some of the institutions did not come to the party when you requested them to take this offer of NFSAS. Are you engaging those institutions because out of 23 it’s only 12 institutions that took up the offer.
Minister Aaron Motsoaledi: I think the first question is whether the health system will cope and the issues of budget. Let me start with the budget. You might remember that in the Mid Term Expenditure Framework in October last year the Minister of Finance gave us an additional R900 million for HIV/AIDS and at that time he announced that in the MTEF we are going to be spending R5 billion. This year in February, because of the announcement that was made on World AIDS Day, that budget was increased by 33% to about R8 billion. The HIV/AIDS budget as a unit has increased by 33%. It’s more than any other budget item, it is to try and cope with the situation. I am aware, and have acknowledged this upfront on many occasions, that the National Strategy Plan against HIV/AIDS which we are implementing, says that we must cut the rate of infection by 50% by 2011 and reach 80% of the people who need ARVs. I said on many occasions it’s like climbing Mount Everest, it’s not child’s play but unfortunately something that the country has to go through, especially the issue of cutting the rate of infection by 50%. If this country doesn’t go through that we are waiting for very tough times because to keep on increasing the budget of ARV’ by 33% is something that the fiscus will collapse under if it’s not stopped. The battle to cut the rate of infection by 50% - those details I said I’ll give when I announce what will happen on the 15th. That is the main part of the battle which I want South Africans to understand.
The issue of NHI, yes the first draft was presented to a cabinet committee in November last year and the cabinet committee gave their inputs and asked very tough questions and because they wanted answers to those questions and because they made new inputs it was referred back to the Ministerial Committee to answer those questions and incorporate the new inputs. They have just informed me that they have done that. The Cabinet in that same meeting chose an inter-ministerial committee which must interrogate the document before it comes back to the cabinet committee to go through the Cabinet processes. I have just said in the speech that I am looking for a first available date to try and put that inter-ministerial committee together to interrogate that document.
The issue of the curative health care and what is the system I would like. In this country in 1994 after the first democratic elections when Nelson Mandela became our first President, a decision was taken that the centre of all our strategies in healthcare will be primary healthcare, that decision was made. That’s why we built 3 000 new clinics and did many sorts of things. Unfortunately we got our eyes off the ball and started to believe that health means cure. You don’t have to be a scientist to understand that should not be so, even from the time I was very young we were singing the song prevention is better than cure. I am saying somehow we got our eyes off the ball on immunisation, and prevention campaigns, just look at the issue of maternal health for instance. I am sure many of you, if I may remind you, the last time you heard about the word contraception and family planning may have been some years back. We no longer even have such basic services. Many young girls are using abortion as contraception and they are dying in that instance. When you move around you see pamphlets all over advertising abortions in some corners and when you check, it’s some form of family planning whereas family planning is primary healthcare in itself. That’s why I am announcing this massive immunisation campaign. How did we get the outbreak of measles, we have to immunise massively in order not to get an outbreak. How do we get outbreaks of cholera, we have got to stop it via primary healthcare, health inspectors doing their work, stopping sewage systems from leaking to rivers like it happened in Mpumalanga when we got that measles outbreak, I think it’s last year or 2008. Those are some of the things I am talking about that we are going to, I am even going to speak to the Minister of Finance and sit with him and say look these issues on our health budget are non-negotiable and that will be primary healthcare issues. If you move to provinces, now say where is your budget for measles immunisation, you will struggle to get it. That must be non-negotiable that children must be immunised, women must undergo primary healthcare at antenatal clinics that include issues of family planning and contraception etc.
The last question about the GP-based model in NHI, I think it’s a misunderstanding. It’s not GP-based, it’s primary healthcare-based. It means if a GP wants to be part of the NHI he will have to be given a package that includes primary healthcare that are going to offer these services. They are going to be immunising people, they are going to be doing family planning, we are not going to be waiting for people here to come when they are sick and the bill is already high, we are going to start by doing prevention. So that what people will get when they go to a medical clinic and GP must be one and the same thing. At the moment it’s not like that. People believe in South Africa when you want prevention you go to a clinic, when you must be treated you go to a very highly qualified specialist doctor or GP. And that is the model that we would like to kill because it’s not workable. I am giving you simple examples of HIV/AIDS that many people believed when the announcement was made on World AIDS Day, they believed we have arrived with long lasting treatments, regimens, lots of money for treating pregnant women, CD4 counts of 350, etc. I am saying no, that is providing treatment for those who have failed to prevent. If we go on with the model nobody is going to be able to pay for it regardless of the moneys from Global Fund and all our development partners, we simply cannot be able to pay for it. That’s why the issue of prevention and primary healthcare will become central to everything that we are doing.
Minister Angie Motshekga: I don’t want to underplay the challenges of poor infrastructure because they do contribute to performance. We still have schools under trees, we still have mud schools, children sharing books, walking long distances. Indeed they contribute to some of the challenges we have and that’s why. I think when we give our budget speech, we’ll illustrate how we are trying to respond to our infrastructure challenges. We are trying to speed up the process of delivering infrastructure through Development Bank of Southern Africa (DBSA) and treasury and really assisting provinces to implement or to roll out infrastructure because there are going to be challenges.
We are looking at Spoornet transport to assist learners in rural areas because again learners are walking long distance to school. So the point I make is that indeed resources continue to be challenges. We have an infrastructure back-log estimated at almost 140 billion and we don’t have that money now. Having said that the point I was trying to make at the NCOP is that despite all that difficulties in your school under the same conditions you then have in the top ten schools in the deep Limpopo, 200 and something kilometres away from the city. Those schools don’t succeed because they have better resources, they succeed because they have committed teachers, a hardworking team, discipline. I was saying once we have the challenges of infrastructure but that does not stop you from being able to achieve results, that if we have good managers who run schools and good teachers who run schools well, we are bound to succeed because even in schools that have good infrastructure, what makes them succeed, is not only because of only good infrastructure. Those schools are characterised by good managers, good work ethic. From the study we have conducted on schools at work it was revealed that indeed infrastructure is important for motivation and for comfort but your success don’t solely lie in the infrastructure that you have, it lies in other things. That's why you get schools like Mbele. It is a very old school but it has been giving us a 100% [pass rate] all the years not because they have a better infrastructure, not because the teachers were trained separately from other teachers, simply because they have very good management, there is a good culture. What makes Mbele to be the top school in the country in natural science is the culture of the school more than the infrastructure. It is the point I wanted to make. Sure, whilst we are still struggling at this stage to put infrastructure in place, commitment, dedication and hard work will enable us to proceed so that we really don’t hide behind infrastructures and say because we are poor we not able to perform, I think I can say a number of schools that you find in Soweto - in a area of five schools from the same community, these are kids who are just as poor, there is crime like in other schools - what distinguished them is there is good leadership, there is commitment, dedication and peace.
The second point you raised about the ability to marshal teachers to be able to do what they are supposed to do, you are quite right. We have just below 400 000 teachers. We have more than 30 000 schools. There is no inspectorate who can help you do that singly and that is why we are looking at the National Education Evaluation and Development Unit (NEEDU) as a broader strategy to assess and evaluate the system. Again that is why the President says we must make education a societal matter because the State alone would not be able to deal with the problems that are confronting us. You will need parents to take responsibility and make teachers accountable through the governing body. Children are going to take responsibility for their own lives by making sure they do what they are supposed to do but they can also make schools accountable and get schools to account, so it’s a number of interventions which are going to enable us to get teachers to work, but just as a single approach to say we have teachers who are not co-operative, therefore this is one line doesn’t work. We are quite fortunate and are very encouraged also by the relationship that we are developing with all our teacher unions. If you recall, immediately after we released reports, national teacher unions issued statements in which they were committing themselves first to make sure they promote learning and teaching in the schools where they are, and they support the state in ensuring we have quality education. We are in talks with them in terms of how we implement that. We minimise some of the legitimate concerns that they normally have which force teachers sometimes out of class. So we are doing our part. On their side they are working with the constituencies to make sure that indeed we can work as a partnership in ensuring that teachers support the Quality Learning Campaign. For me, that is a major breakthrough because that is where our quality lies - it lies in the hands of teachers if we can assist them. More than any person teachers remain the most important people in the system and if we get that right we are confident that indeed we will proceed with it. So we are looking forward to labour peace and stability with them and we are looking forward to them supporting and cooperating with the Department. Internationally teacher development is done by unions not by the State. They should also take responsibility to ensure that they develop their staff. I mean workers take responsibility for their own development and unions should help teachers to take responsibility for their own growth and development in the sector.
Mary Metcalfe: The two questions about the National Student Financial Aid Scheme: The Minister will be releasing the report of the committee on Tuesday and the process from there is that the Minister will be seeking the wisdom of the public as he develops his response to what the committee recommends. The question in relation to NSFAS was firstly the question of the amount of money that at the end of many academic years has to be returned to NSFAS because the money has not been used. It’s a matter of huge public concern because many students need that money. This matter will be addressed in the report but the issue is after the start of the academic year when students have already been accepted, if there are changes in registration, students who drop out and no longer need the money or students who make alternative arrangements. How do we improve the mechanism for money that is then returned to be reallocated once the academic year has started? It’s a challenge and we are hoping the committee will assist us to make recommendations that will solve the problem of that money being wasted due to the challenges of relocating it.
The second question is a very important one because we must clarify, NSFAS send a circular to all universities at the end of last year saying that we can’t have students who obviously can't pay fees without the assistance of NSFAS which is why they have been awarded NSFAS funds. They have met the requirements in terms of levels of family income being asked to pay registration fees in advance of the receipt of the NSFAS money from NSFAS to universities and the problem there is a discrepancy between the start of the academic year and the start of the financial year. The budget to NSFAS is received after the approval of the budget, so that is the 1st of April, but the academic year starts in January so there has been a problem with NSFAS students waiting for their money to come through and some universities insisting that in that period that needy students find alternative mechanism of paying registration. So the circular that was sent to universities at the end of last year said to universities you can’t ask NSFAS students to pay a portion of their fees if they are about to receive full bursaries from NSFAS. We will therefore assist you by sending through as much as 30% of the institutional allocation so that you can assist students. Whilst only 12 of the 23 institutions took up that offer, all institutions were required to comply with the instruction that they should not ask for upfront payment. One can therefore assume that the balance of the institutions had already factored that into their planning and budgeting processes so they didn’t ask for early payment. The point is that all institutions had to comply with easing the upfront payment for NSFAS students. Thank you.
Journalist: Did the issuing of packages to Grade R teachers go according to plan? Thirteen thousand (13 900) schools that must be in the region of 30 000 packs. I would think, what is of concern is to what extent are all those teachers able to use the packs.
Journalist: To the Minister of Health: we were told during the post-Cabinet briefing that you have sent letters to retired and non-practising medical staff to win their support for the HIV testing campaign. Can you tell us what type of support you like to get from them - if you can define support? Secondly will they be paid? Is there any incentive for them to get involved and thirdly how many of these practitioners do you hope to attract to support this campaign?
Journalist: A question for the DG of Higher Education. It was noted now that enrolment numbers for 2010 have been finalised and I wanted to know how it is going with the Department’s attempts to increase enrolment numbers at particularly the FET colleges and universities of technology. Second question: in November 2008 at the National Skills Conference there was an indication that a public participation process would start for the formulation of national skills development strategy phase three (NSDS 3). That phase has been delayed by a year but what is happening with that public participation process? The final question is you have just appointed a new CEO or chair of the National Skills Authority (NSA), perhaps you can tell me what the programme of action for the NSA and perhaps your Department with regards to skills development will be between now and the beginning of NSDS 3.
Journalist: Are there any partners involved in the immunisation campaigns you are planning? Partners like aid agencies, non-governmental organisation (NGOs), whether it’s in grants or actual practise in the field, and the second question, if we are going to go from curative to preventative then one part of that is advocacy. If we are going to go to advocacy what is the Department planning for rural South Africa in terms of getting them on board, halving the infection rate because testing in itself won’t do it and these people are often not close enough to health facilities and clinics.
Journalist: For the Minister of Education, on your tests you have Grade 3, 6 and 9 tests. Are you going to publish the results of those tests, so in other words, will parents know the school that my child attends is ranked wherever in the scheme of things. And are the tests going to be independently marked or are the teachers at the school going to mark them and are you concerned that they could cheat?
Minister Angie Motshekga: The first question is around the packages we sent to schools - all the schools that were supposed to receive the packages have received them and in those packages were also your guides on how to use the packages and district support officers went to support them. As NEEDU starts its work in April, it will assess the success of the interventions. So one of the things we are going to track down is if the intervention is succeeding. If there are any problems or any challenges, we intervene in the interim.
The second question relates to Grade 3 tests: in terms of publishing the results I had not given it a thought but what we have planned to do is that indeed parents will know what the problems and what the challenges are, they will be guided. Teachers will set tests on what should have been taught so they are going to be externally set and be moderated because we don’t have the capacity and resources to do all external marking. I mean it is millions of learners and we didn’t budget to have them externally marked but there will be markers at what needs to be set at that level and there will be external moderation. In terms of the results, I don’t think it will be published, we didn’t plan around this, but we will make them available if people want to know, so it will not be like the matric results where there is a huge public thing.
Journalist: Can I just clarify? So I would be able to find out for instance how my child’s school is faring but not relative to all the other schools? You want tell me the general average?
Minister Angie Motshekga: You should be able to get the results. For instance when I was in Gauteng what we did on the assessment, they were available and we were able to compare schools to say what is the average, so you will be to see what is the national level, what is the provincial average and where your school features in terms of those averages.
Minister Aaron Motsoaledi: I have written letters to all the retired nurses, all the retired doctors, all the retired pharmacists and social workers. Unfortunately I wrote the letters last week before leaving for the UK but when I left I asked my staff to talk to the associations to give names and numbers, so I don’t have the numbers yet and I will be able to disclose on the 25th of March We are encouraging them to register at their nearest health facility and say I’m in to help. The next question, how do we want them to help. We want help specifically in the voluntary counselling and testing. Any doctor or nurse who is retired will know how to counsel and test. They can do that and put your blood into that gadget that will tell you if you are positive or negative. We want them because there are people who will need to be trained who are not necessarily nurses and doctors but they need a backup. The NGO sector has already contributed 9 000 counsellors who have been trained but they need the backup from those who are highly trained and when you put those numbers together on the 25th I will be able to know the actual number, but we need thousands of people if we are to be successful.
Issues of partners in immunisation campaign, yes, we definitely need partners. We do have partners in the World Health Organisation, we have been designing the whole campaign with the help of the World Health Organisation, The United Nations Population Development, USAID, the DFID, (Department for International Development) etc, they are all part and parcel of this campaign helping us with their skills, knowledge and experience from all over the world. I nearly forgot - a very important structure when it comes to immunisation which is the United Nations Children’s Fund (UNICEF) because we are dealing with the issues of children.
The advocacy in terms of PAC, if you look at our ten point programme, number one says we need strategic leadership and develop a social compact with society. It is that social compact that talks about people are going to help in advocacy. But number 8 talks about mass mobilisation for better health outcomes, we need mass mobilisation. Just to give you an example in this war on HIV/AIDS - we regard ourselves as the Government to be heading the treatment part of it but the prevention part of it will have to be done by the South African National AIDS Council (SANAC) at a mass level. SANAC has got 19 sectors, which are the Treatment Action Campaign, The National Association of People Living with HIV/AIDS, the unions, the churches, traditional leaders, the youth groups, the women’s groups - all those must do mass mobilisation on the ground for us in terms of advocacy and they are found in all the townships, villages and cities of this country. It’s true that testing alone - just to test people and send them away - is not going to do the trick so there are going to be many other things other than just testing and sending people away which we will be able to elaborate on the 25th.
I have actually reached the universities because I believe this will also be very good initiation of final year medical students who are about to be doctors next year, I hope the deans received the letter so that I don’t announced it to the media before the people involved. I have written in this letter last week that if each university can give us the final year medical students who are going to be working next year just for five days to get out there and help us in this campaign, just for five days because we don’t need to disturb them in their work. I have also written to the army, when there are doctor’s strikes we rush to the army for them to help. There is no strike here, all the doctors will be on duty and many of them will be volunteering, but we also want the army to enter the fray. This is a big battle for everyone in this country so we are not going to let anybody off the hook, the army, the doctors, the nurses, and retired, those who are working. I nearly forgot final year nurses, who by the way will be qualified by next year and I think by now they will know how to counsel and test ,because if you look at the number of 15 million which you must reach by June next year you will need every available resource in the country.
Mary Metcalfe: In terms of the growth and annulments for 2010, both the higher education sector and the further education sector are guided by national plans which are targets for every year. For the universities we have planned on a lower rate of expansion than colleges and that is because of the disproportionality of the relative size of the two sectors. Estimates vary but it is more or less one in three or four students in colleges relative to universities. So the greater expansion that is being planned is for colleges, for universities is on target. There is a historically well-developed plan in process in terms of student enrolment linked to programme funding, for colleges it’s much more complicated.
Journalist: Is there a timeline or a deadline in regards to the NHI? When will we see draft legislation coming to Parliament. Then to the Minister of Education, you have set some targets for your Department for the next couple of years. Will those targets be included in your performance agreement that you will sign with the President and that we are still waiting to hear from Minister Chabane? To the Minister of Arts and Culture, this morning Cabinet announced that national holidays needs to be more inclusive so as not to create the impression that it’s only the ruling party that commemorates some events. How do you propose that to happen, how do you make national holidays more inclusive?
Journalist: Minister Motshekga, you say there is often a lack of commitment to teach for six and a half hours every day? Are there any measures in place to review teachers’ salaries following some despondence in some quarters of the industry where they are putting in long hours and receive little pay? Secondly would you care to elaborate on how you plan to achieve your targets set for 2014?
Journalist: Minister of Health, your mass counselling and testing campaign, where will it take place, will it just be in our major healthcare centres and clinics. If so is there enough capacity? Then how much will the testing and counselling campaign cost?
Journalist: You said earlier that you are planning to sit down with the Finance Minister and you want to make sure that programmes such as immunisation which are run by the provinces are absolutely not negotiable. Are you looking at some kind of health finance reform or are you looking at introducing new kinds of conditional grants to make sure provinces follow priorities that are indentified at national level. Could you spell that out a little bit more please.
Journalist: Minister of Health, your infrastructure programme: do I understand correctly, will these be five new hospitals because you said we are starting from scratch. Does that mean we will have a new Chris Hani Baragwanath Hospital in Soweto? How much money is available in this coming financial year for your infrastructure programme and relating to these five hospitals, when will the new building start.
Minister Aaron Motsoaledi: As I said we are intending that we must come out with NHI legislation this year. I’m not able to give the actual day, that is why I said I’m looking for the first available date of the Inter-Ministerial Committee, then the Cabinet Committee, then the Cabinet process but the aim is that we definitely need to come up with some form of legislation.
The questions about HIV AIDS, I keep on averting them and they keep on coming in because as I said I will give further details on the 25th of exactly where South Africans who want to do testing and counselling must go, which institutions, what’s going to happen there, I will give those details of the national launching and the provincial launching, where will it take place and who will be responsible etc. I will be able to do all that. The issue of healthcare financing, I’m not really talking about new things. Starting from the problem which the Free State experienced of running out of antiretrovirals (ARVs) we are always asked at a national level what has happened, and yet money has been sent to the province, what happened to the money. In September, I announced that if the Ministry of Finance doesn’t help, it is no longer going to be the only province but eight provinces will run out of ARVs despite what has been given to them. The Minister of Finance then gave us R900 million but in January this year we were already crisis managing, some companies complaining that they are not being paid so we want to work out a mechanism with the Minister. When the funds arrive in the province they are used for what they are intended for. We are not talking about new budgeting just to say if we budget for immunisation, no province should come and tell us we have no money to immunise children. It’s wrong but it’s also expensive for the country. Last week I was giving an interview and I gave an example, I was visiting a province finding out that they have run out of iron tablets, the cheapest pharmaceutical item, and what are they using for that, they are using blood. I’m sure you will know that blood is hundred times more expensive than iron tablets, but that is what’s happening. Do you know how much that is going to cost the fiscus. I mean it should not be happening .So it is those things that we need to sit down with the Ministry and say how we reform this issue in such a way that money is used for what it is intended for and that is healthcare. One of the reasons why I keep on quoting immunisation is that people never toyi-toyi for it, they don’t even know that they are entitled to it. If you go to a hospital looking for a treatment and you don’t find tablets, it will be all over the media, it will be known there are no tablets in this hospital, but if there’s no immunisation, I never hear about, nobody complaints about it, and yet that is the most effective way of dealing with diseases. If nobody budgets for it, we will just keep quiet but I’m saying it must be brought in the centre of our budgeting process and say this list of things must happen.
The issue of new hospitals, yes that is exactly what I’ve said, new hospitals. The basic reason being that the five hospitals that have been chosen - if you go to Chris Hani Baragwanath Hospital you don’t have much to revitalise there, it’s old. If you go to King Edward VII - I started there and two of the blocks in which I used to do my work has been closed off because there are leaks so there is not much. In fact you will spend much more if you try to revitalise some of the institutions I’ve mentioned. If you look at the Walter Sisulu University the hospital there is called Nelson Mandela, it’s relatively new, and you also look at George Mukhari, they are relatively new, they are teaching hospitals. If you look at all five of them, they are serving mainly black populations, they were build in the era when you build a ward for black people, you build a ward for 100. When we say new hospital and state of the art, they must meet modern standards of healthcare, not what is been happening when you built hospitals some years ago. Think about Soweto, that people from Soweto will need to sit and sleep in hundreds. That is why everybody is hammering that when I’m sick, NHI must pay for me to go to a private hospital and you know how expensive that is going to be. I gave an example of this child that was born with her heart outside the chest. If that child went to a private hospital to do that operation, he was going to pay no less than a million Rand and where are the parents going to be? One of your newspapers were going to run a fund in which people start donating money to raise funds. But that never happens because the neonatal unit at Chris Hani Baragwanath Hospital has just been refurbished, a new theatre has been built with the help of the Carte Blanche programme where they mobilise money and mobilise people to help contribute build a new unit. We were able to deal with that problem. If that child was born five months previously, I’m assuring you that Chris Hani Baragwanath Hospital would never have been able to conduct that massive heart operation. So you need to make sure that you make your public infrastructure to meet such standards so that everybody can get a first-class healthcare. That is why we need brand new hospitals. The President announced during the State of the Nation Address that we are partnering the Industrial Development Corporation (IDC) and the DBSA and some private sector banks. They will have to come together to raise these funds, that’s why we call it public private partnership (PPP), in other words, we are not going to rely on our budget, we are going to rely on this PPPs, that means the funds available. I heard after the President’s speech people talking about a different PPP which we were not thinking about - they thought we were talking about the public partner private partnership where some private sector people come to run our hospitals. That’s not what we are talking about. We are talking about raising funds and by the way we are not starting from scratch. Just before the elections the DBSA was about to sign an R23 billion deal to refurbish six hospitals and we said no, please stop, we are going to do it for the whole country. They already raised that money from DBSA, about R23 billion. We said nobody must sign for it, lets put it in the same kitty and see if we can deal with infrastructure for the whole country. So the five major centres we have chosen are serving hugely black population, large numbers of South Africa’s population, but they are also teaching hospitals. If you deal with Chris Hani Baragwanath Hospital, you have dealt with most of North West, you have dealt with most of Pretoria; you have dealt with some parts of Limpopo by the way in terms of referral. If you are talking about the AIDS hospitals, you are talking about the areas from Nongoma even up to Zimkhulu in the former Transkei, they are all referred there. So we believe if this infrastructure is put in such a way that it becomes modernised most of our healthcare problems will be relieved.
Minister Paul Mashatile: It is part of our nation-building programme to ensure that when we celebrate or commemorate national days, it is a reflection of the South African population; it is something that we have noticed that currently is not the case. The President met with leaders of parties in Parliament and this matter was also discussed so in the next two weeks we will be meeting with them to get their input as to what they think should be done. But obviously from our side we make sure that when we have these programmes, to invite all members of Parliament, we invite ministers, all parties and so on. I am going to wait until we have a discussion with all parties to hear them out and see what needs to be done. This will happen in the next two weeks.
Minister Angie Motshekga: The question was around the outcomes, if they were going to be part of the letter of agreement with the Presidency. These outcomes were approved by Cabinet and also informed our planning, so they will definitely constitute what shall be in the agreement with the Presidency. As they stand they are very safe, they are going to have to be refined to make sure that they can be assessed annually and the President will have to monitor if there is progress annually. But as they stand now, they are a bit too broad but they are the ones that inform how we plan. They are also going to inform the very letter that the President is going to write to us.
The second one is around what we raised about teachers, if you they will have to work for six hours it is additional work. They are not paid to teach until eleven because that is what it means, they are paid to teach for six hours and plan for the other two hours, that’s what the law says. The working hours in South Africa is eight hours. So if we say they must teach for six hours, we are not asking for anything more that what they are paid for. I think what we also need to correct is teaching doesn’t pay well. I am sure almost everybody will say they are not paid well, even Ministers. There will always be that need for more, but the point I am trying to make is that teaching competes well with professions at their level. If you take entry levels of teachers, we have tried to address it with the Occupation Specific Dispensation (OSD), then we can probably say that teaching for any four-year trained profession competes well with professions at the same level. So we are not saying it is all that we think teachers deserve, but it is also not that bad. To say they are paid peanuts therefore they have to teach for three hours because that is what I think you are implying. They are paid to teach for six hours and plan for two hours so they are paid for eight hours. If you look at the number of breaks, next week they are going on a break, no other employee in any sector get that, they are going on a break for five weeks in June, they are going to take another break in September and then they close when December starts, what more can you ask for?
Let me take this opportunity to thank the media for the honour of attending our cluster meeting, I hope it was fruitful. We will be also having press conferences; we are having our budget speeches next week, that’s why we keep on saying you will get more next time. So come on the 23rd we will give you the turnaround strategy of saying how are we going to implement some of things that we are saying. So that is what we are keeping in the bag for you, we will give you concrete plans about how these things are going to unfold.
Issued by: Government Communications (GCIS)
11 March 2010