Govt recruits foreign doctors

Sending a strong message that says to striking civil servants ‘You are not indispensable’ Government has embarked on an intensive and swift recruitment drive from across the SADC region to replace fired doctors and nurses who took part in a strike to demand a salary increment.

Speaking on the sidelines of a prolonged countrywide civil servants strike that threatened to bring the health sector to its knees, the Permanent Secretary in the Ministry of Health, Dr Kolaatamo Malefho revealed that over 400 health professions have been fired while at least 1000 non professionals, who are also categorised as essential services by their virtue of being hospital employees, have also been dismissed.

The doctors and nurses were fired for defying a court order to go back to work after their participation in the strike as essential services providers was declared illegal by the courts of law.

“These employees defied a court order and we were left with no choice but to dismiss them. We have also started recruiting locally and beyond borders to fill in the vacancies,’’ he said.

Lambasting the media for what he said were exaggerated reports on the effects of the strike on the health sector, Dr Malefho who refused to say how many people died in hospital wards because of the strike said, “The whole thing was blown out of proportion by the media and the sad thing is that instead of people condemning this unethical act by doctors and nurses, people were actually glorifying and measuring the success of this strike by deaths of people in hospitals.”

“I cannot dispute the fact that hospitals and clinics have been affected by the strike but it is not as gross as the media is portraying it. People now have to wait longer to get services because of a reduced number of personnel hence our swift move to recruit and replace those we have lost,’’ he said, adding that it would not be difficult to replace labour as there were unemployed nurses who would be willing to join the civil service and many foreign doctors who would love to work and live in Botswana.

Concerning non-specialised jobs such as cleaning, cooking and others, Malefho said they have already contracted companies and have hired casual labour to replace them.

Asked on the logic behind firing local doctors whose education was fully paid for by government and replacing them with foreign doctors who usually get better pay, better perks and costly expatriate benefits such as accommodation in a hotel for three months while they wait to be allocated a government house, Malefho downplayed the issue and claimed that it was instead cheaper to have foreign doctors as they are not entitled to a pension scheme.

“Foreign doctors don’t have a pension and are not paid private practice so the issue of costs is out. And yes the government invested in training Batswana doctors but if they defy court orders then we cannot keep people who have no respect for the rule of law.”

He however said all was not lost for the fired doctors as there was a chance of eventually re-hiring those who would want to come back, but each case would be treated individually.

Meanwhile Malefho strongly denied that Cuban doctors who are expected to arrive in the country in June are coming in because of the strike, saying the government has always had a relationship with Cuba and there was an existing programme that brings Cuban doctors to Botswana every year to work in the health sector.


  1. Motho a bo a sinalale go buiwa ka mathata a a apereng lehatshe la ga bone.
    I have always thought the government of Botswana especially at the top, were xenocentric. Now I am sure. Proved by the way they don’t waste time to go abroad to look for foreign doctors to come and replace their citizen doctors in their own soil. This is low even for them. There is a lot of double standard in the ministry of health.On the one hand, there is the agreement that this country has made with regional neighbours to prevent brain drain. And now when they are failing to meet the demands of their own workers, they are the first to run to the neighbouring countries to recruit staff.Thus effecting brain drain. How do the manage to attract them, when the word being stressed is that there is no money? Suddenly there is enough money to support foreigners? This is disgusting hipocracy and they know it. All over the world even in the UK where Dr. Malefho trained, there is no way a British national would be replaced by a foreigner, no matter how good they or no matter how angry the government is at their own people. Botswana these years is not for Batswana. Only when things are running smoothly and no one tries to speak rights. It is for DRC, Zimbabwe, Ethiopia, China, Cuba, you name it. Infact there is one hospital in the norh of Botswana where the doctors are all from DRC and they use french in the morning conference. That’s ok with Malefho, because he does not care about solving the problems of the health system so that we keep our doctors happily employed. This is supposed to work like a home. The parents in the home should love and support their children under all circumstances. If the children misbehave or complain about something the parents disagree with, it does not make sense for the parents to go out in the street to get strange children and throw theirs out of the house. Only the ministry of health style of parenting would do something like that. This is the kind of attitude none of us Batswana care anything about. Our parents built this country and when they did, they did not have in mind that some day foreigners will be regarded highly on it over the owners. If the president of Botswana agrees with what his officers are doing then he is worse than the striking civil servants and is certainly not the man we all thought he was. He is a friend of the world, but enemy of the state.

  2. Se goromente wa Botswana a tswhanetseng goseitse ke gore motswaka ga a kake a tlhokomela molwetse jaaka mong kaene. What about the language barrier? A baeteledipele barona jaaka bagolo ba buse pelo for the sake of batswana ba madi a bone a dirisitsweng go ruta bana ba bone gore ba tsoge ba ba boloka.Batswana a ba serontshiwe tshwanelo yeo.

  3. This is a sad revelation. We come far as Batswana, from the poorest of the poor to a middle income country to the envy of the world. We knew how to live, we stood side by side with the less privileged & built this country, we deliberated over difficult issues though discomforting as they might be like the current strike but we always prevailed. I can no longer recognize my Botswana i know. Though as poor as we were then, we were happy, i am struggling to accept that the prosperity that was suppose to make us even more happy is now hurting us. We need a hard look at ourselves & ask ourselves where we got it wrong. Dr Malefho, hiring foreigners looks cheap on the surface but the truth is, it is expensive if you factor in all costs. The benefits are always short-lived. The only plausible advantage is by nature foreigners will not demand any rights & you are sure of service all the time, they are mercenaries. The darker side is, we are compromising our self reliance, we are expatriating the money that will otherwise be circulation within & developing our own people. I know there are a lot of wrongs that have been done during this strike but let us not damage what we worked hard to create. E akanye mongwato, badichaba ba re lebile legone ba tile go re tshega. Let us not play in their hands. No country can replace its own able labour with foreigners. We need to dialogue with these doctors & nurses & show them reason.

  4. There is room for even more doctors in our country. They are in serious short supply and recruitment has been ongoing even as we train more of our own. What I understand is happening here is that the government can’t watch as patients die when citizen doctors abandon them to be on strike. It’s an emergency measure that anyone would take, and this uses the money that would have paid those doctors on strike. Not additional funds! Life of anyone of our people is precious and in my view no money can equate to it! A doctor who is prepared to turn his back on his patients for money is as good as criminal in my view and can’t have a right to have an argument worth listening to about anything to do with what is done to help patients he has neglected!

    There will always be room for more doctors in our country and if Botswana recruits real experts, this could give our younger doctors the chance to work with and learn from the best, thus localizing the required skill. Bringing skill to our country with a clear plan to ultimately localize it by getting these people to teach the locals will benefit this country, just like in any other field. This is important! All boxes need to be ticked to ensure that recruitment has this at the centre of it. The idea of employing non-English speak experts is absolutely wrong! How do they communicate with patients? To arrive at right diagnoses, on time, and for treatment plan to be well understood by patients for effective care?

  5. there should be a minimum of words somebody can comment, re lapisiwa ke di paragraph,kana ke di lecture

  6. Yes, I agree that there is no point in keeping people who have no respect for the rule of law. When they joined this profession they knew what was expected of them, or in simple words, what they were taught. Ke gore jaanong money comes first and what they initially agreed to abide with is ‘rubbish’. Typical hypocrites!

  7. Jeesss!comments like cris_m and yobayo, makes my stomach turn..cris-m if you’re not DIS, then o hardcore ass kisser, doochbag..claimming to be always on the right side..Yobayo when people joined this profesion they studied hard to qualify to get to that point…with lots and lots of state and parents funds being put to their education(one of the most expensive professions)…and if you going to just dump them becuase they refused to be abused (what a waste).. We talk like this people are doing voluntary miners, engineers whenever they stop, the wheels of life stops turning then bigger, bad things happens..with shortage of doctors and nurses in the whole world, i think we should think again of our actions..we are not an arrogant nation, we have now tasted the fruits of it..”Ntwa kgolo tlhe Batwswana Betso”..Re kile ra bo re lela ka ma Chaina mo dipateleng ka bo 80’s gompieno le batla Ma Cuba ba baithuti..Nna kare ga gona Motswana yo tshwanetseng go runtshiwa ditshwanelo..if you fire those civil servants they our brothers and sisters..Batswana citizens that we must care for not to exploit them..

  8. @msolinah. If you dare insult me, at least come up with something intelligent to say afterwards rather than help expose what a complete f**l with just a bad attitude you are. If I’m an ass kisser at least I do that for a decent leader, not some f**lish hooligan politician who lies all the time. Grow up and understand that different views are welcome in a democracy!

  9. I wonder what would happen if we truly listened and heard each other? Is it possible that there is more going on here than the strike? Is this time for us re le Batswana to review our values, regardless of party lines. I am because you are…botho betso. Most people who have gone for higher education stand on the sweat of our grand-parents/parents etc. Motho le motho kgomo. Is this really about the money? What are we flexing for? Is it about a system that has gone awry? What is it people? See I am not one to claim I know what is going on. I just think it may be time for us to ask ourselves hard questions…whatever they are. We have been on cruise control for too long.Some of us have not even realized we have been journeying. But development is a beautiful thing, when you are conscious of it. When you are able to reflect. We need to reflect. We were one of the poorest nations in 1966, we were said to be the fastest growing economy in less than 3 decades. And no sooner, we had the highest rate of HIV. Losing most of our human resources which we had invested in. Since then we have been self-destructing. Self-destructing why? Some say ke boloi when young educated people die. Is it really. Or is there more going on that we have yet to address. We (are the government), we have become our own liability. I spend some time on the gov website looking for some statistics to report for a research paper I am working on. Do you know that the highest crime currently is rape? Higher than any other crime including robbery. Why is that? Botho betso. We have spades of suicide and homicides that we have named “passion killings”…is this our way to ground our responsibility of all these social ills? When you look at the drivers f HIV, there are all behavioral. Are we say we are incapable of change no matter what we know? No matter how much family, friends, human resources we lose? What is it going to take for us to say enough is enough? I hope you notice that I am not talking about the strike. Because something tells me there is more here than the strike. Is it possible the strike is a symptom of bigger ulcer? Bear with me, I am not talking politics here…I just think that what is going on in our country affords us opportunities to look within, not point fingers. Let us take stock, there is a lot going on in our country that some of us (myself included)have turned a blind eye on.Some of us (myself included) are paid in a day, more than some are paid in a year. Really? Why is that? My baby sitter affords me the luxury to go make money and I think she is worth P500, really? Where are our priorities people? Are we investing wisely? How much do we pay the person who keeps watch of all our money, ee rra ke raa bo guard? What have you and me done for our country lately? Are you being a good citizen? Are we creating a self sustaining state? Are we giving back so ALL our children have opportunities we were afforded? Let us not let the strike turn us on each other, let us take this opportunity to think, ask, question and not assume. Let us give our country the benefit of doubt. It begins with you and me…all of us have a stake in what is going on. Let us not have this polarize the nation along party lines. Re Batswana rotlhe Batswana betso! Please let us brainstorm, let us questions sengwe le sengwe…and let us listen, it is the responsible thing to do! Every time you fail to listen to the next person you robbed yourself of a perspective you didn’t otherwise know…correct or not. Be kind to me, be kind to yourself, I really am just thinking out loud. I am tired of consuming information with out sharing my two thebe. Ame a kalo Batswana betso! Ke a leboga!