Even before one could extend a welcoming note to Aaron Motsoaledi, the new Minister of Health, I find it quite interesting that he is already facing challenges from the strike by doctors and nurses .
I suppose he must suspect that President Jacob Zuma has had a lifelong grudge against him to give him the position. As we know, none of the previous health ministers had been able to escape the conflict and controversy of this hot seat.
I must hasten to say, though, that I am fully behind these medical practitioners' demands for more pay because I cannot comprehend how a qualified medical doctor can earn the same salary as a bank teller.
In terms of the status of these occupations, which I will only use to elaborate on my argument, I find it absurd that someone who has studied for at least seven years for a degree could be equated with a person who only needed a matric certificate to master their trade.
As a matter of fact, I have always held the view that our democratically elected government has never really shown any commitment to addressing past imbalances beyond just what can be considered reasonable.
For instance, all other civil servants' salary negotiations are still based on the peasantry income that was paid out by the apartheid regime. Our educators, healthcare workers and other professionals earn peanuts and are consequently struggling to make ends meet.
When these professionals abandon these posts to look for greener pastures elsewhere they are often accused of lacking patriotism and loyalty to their country. This is basically the reason why most of our government departments lack capacity, experience and manpower, so to speak. Then everyone cries foul at what is termed the brain drain, which results in the mediocre services that are provided at the front desk.
The same grave situation applies to other professions such as engineering and science. The greatest challenge our government faces at this critical stage is to acknowledge that we have not been able to get our ducks in a row, our priorities are almost like being trapped in a whirlpool.
Former Finance Minister Trevor Manuel, despite all the economic praise that he carries around with him, has drastically let our country down in terms of allocating the budget.
While changing the landscape of our country to eradicate the icons of the previous regime is important, there is no doubt that there are more pressing matters than changing street names. These are luxuries that can wait to create space and re-direct the taxpayers money to cover more urgent issues.
So, the important message is simple, loud and clear - give the medical practitioners what they are worth. Period!