Masetleka Matjekesa and Ntsoaki Motaung
The support staff working at Queen â€˜Mamohato Memorial Hospital (QMMH) earn lower salaries than workers from other government and Christian Health Association of Lesotho (CHAL) facilities doing the same job with similar qualifications, Newsday can reveal.
This is a far cry from the government of Lesotho and TÅ¡epong Consortium agreement plan of matching QMMH salaries to those of the South African health sector, in order to control the brain drain Lesotho has suffered in the health sector in the past, according to Lesotho Workers Association (LEWA).
Until 2021 when the government ended their relationship, TÅ¡epong Consortium was engaged by the government to run the hospital since 2011.
The consortium was led by a South African healthcare group, Netcare, which was joined by other smaller companies.
In 2008, a rare 18-year public-private partnership (PPP) agreement in the health sector was signed between the government of Lesotho and TÅ¡epong Consortium for the construction and operation of the hospital.
Netcare owned a 40 percent stake in the consortium, while four other companies, Afriâ€™nnai (South Africa), Excel Health, Women Investment, and D10 Investments (all from Lesotho), held the balance of the shares.
But in an unprecedented move, the government cut ties with TÅ¡epong in 2021 due to serious differences, which had plagued their agreement, the last being the dismissal of some 345 striking workers from QMMH.
The government has since taken over the operation of the hospital, but problems at the facility show no signs of abating.
A LEWA letter to the ministry of health dated March 10 this year has made shocking revelations that a data clerk at QMMH hospital earns a monthly salary of M4,000, while a person holding the same post and qualifications working at a state or CHAL hospital earns between M7,422 and M8,000 per month.
â€œA receptionist at CHAL clinics is earning M8,000 per month but at QMMH they are earning M4,300,â€ LEWA secretary general, Hlalefang Seoaholimo, said in the letter.
â€œA driver at CHAL clinics is earning M5,000 but at QMMH is earning M4,600, and a cashier at CHAL is earning M6, 951 but at QMMH they are earning M4,109.â€
LEWA said the hospital failed to adhere to the provisions of the agreement between the government and TÅ¡epong Consortium.
â€œIt was jointly agreed that TÅ¡epong would aim to match salaries of workers in the South African health sector since the country has lost many of its health professionals to SA.
â€œWe LEWA, based on that agreement, wish to confirm that such quality model payment practice was never put to use at TÅ¡epong in compliance with the agreement.â€
â€œIt is our submission that during the transition QMMH has reviewed the salaries of nurses and standardized but left out the ones for support staff.â€
LEWA also claimed that following the ousting of the consortium from the hospital, the government hired new workers under different and improved terms to those who were already working at the hospital.
â€œDuring the same period some of the people were employed and to our surprise and dismay they were given higher salaries than those who have been at TÅ¡epong more than eight years.â€
As a result, LEWA has requested the ministry of health to consider restructuring the hospitalâ€™s salary structure to match those existing state and CHAL health facilities.
â€œâ€¦ Based on the above reasons, we believe that the office of the Honourable Minister will consider the importance of restructuring QMMH employeesâ€™ salaries and also the establishment of a notch system within the institution.â€
The letter is copied to the ministryâ€™s Principal Secretary (PS), human resources director, finance director, director general, and the QMMHâ€™s managing director and human resources manager.
Contacted for comment, the ministryâ€™s public relations manager, â€˜Mateboho Mosebekoa, together with the public relations officer, â€˜Mamolise Falatsa, said they did not have any information regarding the letter.