/ 8 October 2010

Ministers clear the air on Medunsa

The ministers of health and higher education held an urgent press briefing on Thursday afternoon to explain utterances reportedly made by ANC Youth League president Julius Malema regarding the merger between the former Medical University of Southern Africa (Medunsa) and the University of the North the day before.

Ministers Aaron Motsoaledi and Blade Nzimande held the briefing during the South African Democratic Teachers’ Union’s (Sadtu) 7th national congress in Boksburg.

It followed the Sowetan‘s report on Thursday that Malema had said the merger involving Medunsa that produced the University of Limpopo was a failure.

According to the Sowetan, Malema had said during an address at the University of Limpopo on Wednesday that:

  • The government should settled on the merger and should rather have strengthened Medunsa so that it continued to produce good doctors ; and
  • Students must be better supported so they have the will to succeed.

In a joint statement the two departments said the ANC and government have involved the University of Limpopo for several years in discussions because of concerns about the perceived negative result of the merger on the training of health professionals.

Top ANC officials led by the Deputy President, Kgalema Motlanthe, were briefed on the matter by the two ministers last month, the statement said. Arising from these engagements, the departments of health and higher education and training had agreed that a task team comprising both departments would look into several concerns about Medunsa, including deriving from the merger.

“We have been communicating with the chairperson of council and the vice-chancellor of the University of Limpopo about our intention to appoint the task team. We will release the terms of reference for the work of the task team in the next few weeks,” read the statement.

The leadership of the ANC is fully aware of the progress that has been made on this matter, the statement said. “In the meantime, teaching and learning should proceed as normal at the campus. We are aiming to conclude the matter sooner rather than later to provide stability at the campus and in the health professions sector.”