Tshwane’s poor Russian medical graduates have felt they have no choice but to take to the streets after fighting for help with registration and integration into the South African system for over a year.
In the middle of the year 2022, 51 unemployed medical physicians from the Mpumalanga government bursary program arrived back in South Africa. They were also offered a scholarship to translate their degrees into English and a training internship. This would prepare students for the board exams required by the Health Professions Council of South Africa (HPCSA) and allow them to practice medicine in South Africa.
The first generation of 49 graduates isn’t much closer to being able to practice medicine in South Africa as the 2023 class returns home.
Seven talks with the appropriate department officials have taken place since October 2022. One of the graduates jots down this quote from a December 2022 meeting: “Graduates should not be frustrated on their way back into the country, they are children of low class, their parents are the voters who put the government in power, so they need to be assisted.” Received on WhatsApp on January 20, 2023.
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Most students had gotten their degree translation refunds by January 2023, but after four meetings, graduates were left feeling even more discouraged. Dr. Sipho Mkhabela, director of the Russian programme at the Department of Education, allegedly told the graduates that this was merely an introductory meeting to hear their perspectives and brainstorm potential solutions.
The grads assert that they first proposed these ideas in 2021, well in advance of their graduation, in an effort to head off any complications when they returned to South Africa. They further claim that government officials in Mpumalanga advised them that the media coverage of their condition beginning in October 2022 was damaging South Africa’s international political alliances. Students have complained about being told things like “go get a job at Checkers.”
Although there was discussion of finalizing their registration costs and arranging a six-month integration programme, where graduates would spend three months at Sefako Makgatho University followed by three months of supervised internships at provincial hospitals, these meetings in February, May, and July 2023 yielded little fruit. The program was supposed to begin in August 2023, but the pupils are still at home because of the administration’s persistent failure to secure adequate funds.
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SAFE PROPOSED PROGRESSIVE MOVE
The grads have issued a unified statement saying they want to march peacefully and in compliance with the law. They’ll be joined by other recent grads from Gauteng and the Free State who are dealing with the same issues.
Here are the specifics of the scheduled march:
Day: September 6, 2023
Tshwane’s Church Square is our point of departure.
The route will take participants from Church Square in downtown Tshwane to the HPCSA offices in Arcadia to deliver a memorandum. Finally, the same memorandum will be delivered to the Union Buildings.
The grads want to bring attention to the continued sloppiness, slowness, and apathy of all responsible government employees across the country. They want to make a difference in the lives of their families and communities by becoming doctors, and they plan to use pressure to get the training and experience they need to get hired.
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