Post-apartheid jobs scramble

July 12, 1996

South Africa is tightening its borders in the face of growing calls by black people for locals to be given jobs before foreigners. The move is expected to hit hard at universities and technikons that recruit staff abroad.

The government is also trying desperately to stem the flow of skilled people, mostly whites and especially doctors, from the country.

There is huge pressure on universities and technikons to increase the proportion of blacks among academic staff. According to the Development Bank of Southern Africa, 65 per cent of researchers and teaching staff at universities and technikons are still white.

Universities, which for decades were isolated from the rest of the world because of the academic boycott, are meeting resistance to efforts to attract international scholars, even scholars from other African countries.

A spokeman for the University of the Wi****ersrand, said the declining value of the Rand has made it increasingly difficult for institutions to attract good academics from overseas: a professor in South Africa would earn around only Pounds 20,000 a year.

President Nelson Mandela, who is said to be asking the British government for help in discouraging the employment of South African doctors in its health service, has made repeated calls for whites not to leave the country. White doctors are leaving almost as fast as South Africa produces them.

The shortage of doctors persuaded the department of health to "import" around 300 Cuban doctors to plug some critical gaps.

The health department has also been investigating ways of financially rewarding medical schools that produce doctors who remain in the country, and has looked into a form of "national service" to ensure that graduating doctors work off at least some of the public money spent on their education.

Earlier this year it was reported that more than 600 doctors had applied to emigrate through just one international employment agency in Cape Town. The Central Statistical Service says emigration of doctors doubled during 1994.

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