Item 1256 - Statement by President Mandela on the Health Situation in the Country

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ZA COM MR-S-1256


Statement by President Mandela on the Health Situation in the Country


  • 1995-09-23 (Creation)

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Transcription of speech made by Mr Mandela

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(18 July 1918-5 December 2013)

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Migrated from the Nelson Mandela Speeches Database (Sep-2018).

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  • English

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I feel both joy and anguish as I stand before you today.

I am delighted to have the opportunity to address you because it affords me the honour of paying tribute to the sterling work you are doing under the most trying conditions. All South Africans are proud of the sacrifices that you are making for the good of us all.

In the past few weeks, the country has seen developments in the health sector, including strike action, which have disrupted the provision of much needed health care to ailing citizens, young and old. This is an unfortunate situation which any responsible government would regret.

There is no denying that the working conditions of our nurses and others in the health sector leave much to be desired. The remuneration packages and other conditions of work are not conducive to enhanced dedication and an improved work ethic. The present grave situation in the health sector is the result of years of neglect and discrimination in providing for the needs of the majority of the citizens of the country. We are still reaping the fruits of the apartheid system.

The tragedy of our past is that no matter how hard we try, and we are doing so, we cannot reverse the accumulated effects of deprivation and neglect overnight. It will take time, perhaps even beyond the first term of office of the democratically elected government.

Your grievances are legitimate and have the full understanding of the Government of National Unity. Regrettably, the government cannot at this time meet all the demands that you have placed before us. This applies not only to nurses, but to all the employees of the state, at national and provincial level.

I am however delighted by the progress that has been made in the discussion between the Minister of Health and her department, on the one hand, and the different organisations of health workers on the other. I am informed by the Minister that the second round of discussions which took place yesterday, has laid a foundation for managing disputes and grievances in a way that should satisfy all stakeholders.

I am particularly pleased with the decision to establish a Task Group that will develop proposals for the establishment of an inclusive National Health Consultative Forum in the middle of October. The significance of this proposal is that it lays the basis for cooperative management of the health system in the country. It also prepares the ground for improving the bargaining position of the nurses in the Central Bargaining Chamber and the possible institution of a Health Sector Chamber.

I will be taking a personal interest in the advancement of the working conditions of the health sector workers through the channels that are being set up.

With the sense of purpose that has set in, demonstrated by the decision to schedule the next consultative meeting as early as Tuesday next week, I am confident that an amicable solution will be found and that a common vision will develop on how we can together strive to provide a better service to our people and at the same time give adequate rewards to our health workers,

I must in the meantime appeal to you to suspend all kinds of labour action while your representatives and the government address your grievances.

I am urging you to cooperate with and assist the Minister of Health, DR Nkosazana Zuma and the different MECs in the provinces, who are deeply committed to doing their all to achieve a better working environment for our health workers. I have full confidence in particular in the Minister, whose compassion for the deprived and whose sense of duty remain unquestionable.

It is through negotiation and a spirit of partnership that we will find the way to the kind of health service that our people deserve.

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Acquisition method: Hardcopy ; Source: ANC Archives, Office of the ANC President, Nelson Mandela Papers, University of Fort Hare. Accessioned on 22/01/2010 by Zintle Bambata




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