R5 billion wasted on failed NHI pilots could have improved health system 

The Democratic Alliance (DA) can reveal the exact breakdown of the R5.1 billion that has been spent since 2012/13 on the 10 failed National Health Insurance (NHI) pilot projects. This breakdown has been revealed through parliamentary questions published on Monday.

The breakdown of the R5 billion wasted public money is crucial because there are lessons which should be learnt from this process that the Health Minister, Dr Zweli Mkhize, is simply ignoring in the National Health Insurance Process.

Previously, the Public Health Strengthening (Genesis) Report lamented the NHI pilot projects, saying there was “inadequate planning, a lack of resources, inconsistent communication, a lack of coordination where necessary and insufficient mechanisms to monitor progress and thereby ensure course correction”.

Furthermore, last week the Financial and Fiscal Commission (FFC) revealed some shocking statistics on the NHI Conditional Grants in the provinces. The FFC found that there was massive under- expenditure of the grants because there has been no capacity building for district offices to be able to rollout the various programmes.

FFC further noted that for conditional grants to be successful, districts and provinces need to be given at least 3 years lead time. This was never done for the NHI grants. Provinces and districts were simply given money and targets and no capacitation was afforded to them. That is why over R5 billion was wasted and more money continues to be lost to this NHI programme.

They have highlighted that the continuous spending of public money in provinces of these grants is tantamount to servicing a black hole. This will no doubt be exacerbated by the premature and ill-advised implementation of the NHI Fund.

At an average cost of R1.5 million to train a doctor over six years, the money spent on NHI projects could have trained 3 400 doctors and filled hundreds of nursing vacancies. With only 4003 doctors employed in the public sector, this would have brought much-needed relief across the country.

Just during the 2017/18 financial year alone, the Department spent R1.5 billion on NHI projects, with very little to show for it.

Name of the Grant Grant Deliverables (R 000′) 2017/18 (R 000′) 2016/17 (R 000′) 2015/16 (R 000′) 2014/15 (R 000′) 2013/14 (R 000′) 2012/13
National Health Insurance Equipment for PHC facilities and outreach teams, training of staff in SCM, impact assessment of pilot interventions 99 665 63 491 63 605 71 614 78 019
Ideal Clinics Evaluate clinics against ideal clinic criteria and support facilities to reach ideal clinic status 26 590 9 792
Human Papillomavirus Vaccine Two dose vaccination 199 534 189 992 158 719 189 489
Health Professionals Contracting Contracting health professionals and  CCMDD 549 035 361 580 279 780 R82,261 9 457
Health Facility Revitalisation Nursing Education Institutions, maintainance, repair and refurbishment 657 099 686 496 612 623 292 345 373 483
Information Systems Health Patient Registration System, PHC Stock Visibility System and Hospital Stock Visibility System. 83 807

 

What is clear is that the ANC government seeks to proceed with the implementation of the disastrous NHI Bill despite the fact that the pilots have failed, the lessons from those failed pilots have yet to be taken on board and the continued waste of public money on the implementation of the NHI programme without the requisite training for districts and provinces.

This commitment to an ideological win despite the evidence before the Minister is reckless and a gross display of disregard for public money in a finically stretched industry.

This is why the DA continues to wage a fight against the NHI Bill. This Bill will not achieve universal healthcare or improve the lives of South Africans. The health industry requires a system overhaul instead of this piecemeal, hole plugging, strategy being used. That DA supports the country’s efforts to attain Universal Health Care. That is why we have been proposing the Sizani Universal Healthcare Plan which is a credible alternative to the NHI.

President Ramaphosa must confirm government will not pay for Jacob Zuma’s latest legal tricks

The Democratic Alliance (DA) notes former President Jacob Zuma’s intention to file an application for leave to appeal the KwaZulu Natal High Court’s judgement dismissing his application for a permanent stay of prosecution as it relates to the corruption charges he faces. This is yet another conniving move by Zuma to avoid jail for the over 783 counts of fraud, corruption and racketeering as it relates to his role in the infamous Arms Deal.

For over 10 years, the people of South Africa have been forced to pay for Zuma’s legal fees as he has used every trick in the book to delay the inevitable. Last year, following a case brought by the DA, the North Gauteng High Court ruled that the state will not fund Jacob Zuma’s legal fees in his defence of his role in the corruption that has afflicted our country. Moreover, the court ordered Jacob Zuma to pay back the money already incurred by the state for his pending cases.

I will today write to President Ramaphosa, requesting (1) that he confirms in writing that the state will not pay a cent towards Jacob Zuma’s latest stalling tactic in the form of his appeal, and (2) an update as to the process made by the state in recouping public money used over the last decade to fund Zuma’s decade-long plan to escape accountability. It has been almost a year since the North Gauteng High Court ordered Zuma to pay back the monies spent on his legal fees and the people of South Africa deserve to know whether this has happened yet.

We maintain that President Ramaphosa should have done the right thing and made Zuma pay for his own defence, without the courts forcing him to do so. Moreover, that he should have cancelled the agreement between Zuma and the Presidency in which the latter will cover the former’s legal costs relating to corruption charges.

The DA is committed to seeing justice done, and we will continue to fight for accountability at all levels of government. We will not relent until Jacob Zuma is held to account for his corrupt actions.

Arts and Culture SOEs must be reduced to 8 entities following increase in fruitless and irregular expenditure

The Democratic Alliance (DA) calls for the state-owned entities (SOE) under the Department of Sports, Arts and Culture to be drastically reduced following an increase of R160 million in fruitless, wasteful and irregular expenditure at these entities.

The Department of Sports, Arts and Culture has around 25 entities that are currently reporting to it. These include the, National Arts Council, National Library of South Africa, National Film and Video Foundation (NFVF), South African Heritage Resources Agency (SAHRA), the Market Theatre Foundation, and Robben Island Museum, to name but a few.

Shockingly, only 9 out of the Department’s 25 entities managed to receive unqualified audits without any findings. This points to the fact that many of these entities are completely of no use and some of them duplicate functions that are already performed by other entities under the Department’s jurisdiction.

South African sports are hamstrung by what seems to be a chronic lack of funding. This while meaningless SOEs are misappropriating money without a shred of accountability.

It is for this very reason that the DA proposes for the entities under the Department be reduced to 8 to free up much need funding for sports development and to reduce the duplication and mismanagement.

The board of Gauteng theatre, for an example, performs the same function as the board of KwaZulu-Natal theatre. This duplication is completely unnecessary and is part of the reason why these entities reporting to the department are failing to account.

We must therefore consolidate all museums in South Africa under one entity, and the same with art galleries, theatres, etc.

There is a need for effective consequence management at the Department, in order to put an end to wasteful expenditure, corruption, maladministration and breakdown of governance in many of these entities.

The DA will be writing to the Chairperson of the Portfolio Committee of Sports, Arts and Culture, Ms Beauty Dlulane, to request that the Department reports back on the state of its finances and the finances of its entities on a monthly basis in order to ensure that the financial health is restored.

Ultimately, the financial mismanagement and breakdown in governance at the Department’s entities will continue unabated because the Department is simply incapable and under capacitated to fully perform oversight over its SOEs – which makes a reduction all the more important.

The Democratic Alliance will keep a close eye on these developments, we will continue to hold the department accountable so at to ensure that it does not fail to deliver on its important mandate of developing and preserving South African culture to ensure social cohesion and nation-building.

Treasury’s Municipal Finance Recovery Service Unit must intervene in Limpopo’s ‘VBS municipalities’

The Democratic Alliance (DA) will write to the Finance Minister, Tito Mboweni, to activate National Treasury’s Municipal Finance Recovery Service unit (MFRS) to directly intervene in Limpopo municipalities that illegally invested ratepayers money in VBS, to stave off a looming financial collapse.

More than a year ago, details emerged in a forensic report commissioned by the Reserve Bank, that senior ANC officials were paid to use their political influence over dozens of municipalities to invest in what was termed a “pyramid scheme” by the investigators.

To date, not a single person who raided municpal coffers has been arrested or sent to jail.

Following last week’s oversight by Parliament’s Portfolio Committee on Cooperative Governance and Traditional Affairs (COGTA) to the affected municipalities, it became clear that they were struggling to meet their financial obligations, service delivery had come to a complete standstill and they had degenerated into a state of crisis.

On several occasions in the past, my DA colleagues in the Limpopo legislature have asked the Provincial government to take active steps to hold those responsible to account but to no avail. The Provincial government has made no effort, either to institute criminal proceedings against those who benefited from the VBS sleaze or to contain the impending financial collapse of the municipalities which threatens to affect innocent residents.

It is for this reason that the DA is asking Treasury’s MFRS to intervene under 139 of the amended Local Government Municipal Finance Act. The additional paragraphs in the amended section, approved by Parliament in 2003, empowers the MFRS to pursue mandatory intervention:

  • if a municipality is in serious financial difficulties;
  • if the province does not intervene when a municipality meets the criteria.

Most importantly, the MFRS develops a financial recovery plan which the municipality must implement, failure to which it will be dissolved.

It can never be acceptable that R1,2 billion that was meant for basic infrastructure projects like water and sanitation was brazenly stolen from municipalities where residents are still being forced to use open spaces as ablution facilities.

The looming financial disaster in the ‘VBS municipalities’ is a national crisis that requires an urgent response. The DA is confident that Treasury’s MFRS will not delay in instituting financial recovery plans that will stop financial collapse and restore service delivery.

DA FedEx studies draft Organisational Review Report ahead of FedCo

The Federal Executive is the highest decision-making body of the DA after the Federal Council and Congress.

The Democratic Alliance (DA) Federal Executive (FedEx) met at the Party’s Federal Head Office in Cape Town on Friday to deliberate on the single agenda item of the Draft Report of the Organisational Review Panel. The Organisational Review was commissioned at a meeting of the FedEx immediately after the 8 May 2019 General Election.

There was extensive engagement by members of FedEx with the Panel and Draft Report ahead of a two-day sitting of the Federal Council (FedCo) on 19 and 20 October 2019.

We wish to stress that no decisions were made in relation to status of the Draft Report, as this function lies with the FedCo as the highest decision-making body of the Party between Congresses.

We want to warn against the unauthorised dissemination of the Draft Report, which has not been finalised. The unauthorised dissemination of the Draft Report compromises the integrity of the debate and decisions, which are scheduled to take place at the coming FedCo.

Given that the Final Report will only be debated and decided on by FedCo, we will not be commenting on the contents of the Draft Report nor will responses be given to questions related to the process followed in compiling it.

The DA remains committed to building one party and one prosperous South Africa for all.

DA condemns appalling homophobic bill in Uganda – SA cannot be silent

The Democratic Alliance (DA) condemns, in the strongest possible terms, the Ugandan Government’s plans to reintroduce legislation in the country that would bring the death penalty for homosexuals.

This inherently homophobic piece of legislation is utterly deplorable, inhumane and undemocratic.

LGBTQIA+ rights are human rights and no person should be discriminated against or lose their lives because of their sexual orientation.

The DA trusts that the South African Government will stand with the LGBTQIA+ community in Uganda and the DA in opposition to this appalling bill.

As we celebrate Pride Month, the DA remembers the sacrifices the LGBTQIA+ has made not only for liberation of South Africans, but for liberation Africans across our continent.

While South Africa has come some way in recognising LGBTQIA+ rights and we still have a long way to go – we need to continue advancing the basic human rights of this community throughout Africa and the world.

US authorities acting on State Capture whilst Ramaphosa-administration dithers

The Democratic Alliance (DA) welcomes the strong action taken by the United States Department of the Treasury’s Office of Foreign Assets Control (OFAC) to impose sanctions against the Gupta Family and their associates for their involvement in State Capture in South Africa, under the Global Magnitsky Human Rights Accountability Act for corruption, bribery and misappropriation of state assets.

The statement which was released on Thursday evening, states that US authorities have imposed sanctions against Ajay Gupta, Atul Gupta, Rajesh Gupta, and Salim Essa for their involvement in corrupt schemes with government officials and employees in state-owned enterprises for their own personal gain. The sanctions prohibit US persons from engaging in transactions with the four men, or entities owned or controlled by them.

The DA views the US sanctions against the Gupta family’s carefully orchestrated network of corruption as a positive step that could open-the-flood-gates for several others to be held accountable for the crimes they committed at the expense of the South African people.

It is however unfortunate that President Cyril Ramaphosa’s ANC government has not acted against a single individual that has been implicated in State Capture. Instead, the Ramaphosa-administration has awarded those involved in the looting of our state coffers. It is incomprehensible that not a single individual responsible for State Capture has been arrested, let alone charged and hauled before the courts.

The fact that it has taken US authorities to act against the Guptas and their acolytes, despite the numerous evidence presented at the Zondo Commission, places a massive dark cloud of doubt over President Ramaphosa’s intentions to clean up the rot, which he stood and watched happen for almost 10- years. Government is missing a huge opportunity to send a clear message to the public and the world – that rogue elements have no place in our country.

Not a single one of the cases brought against high-ranking officials and politicians has a docket or has been referred to the NPA for criminal prosecution despite the hard-hitting evidence available in the public domain.

There has been much fanfare around taking corruption head-on with little to action taken, even in the face of strong evidence being presented. The action by US government authorities has shown our own law enforcement agencies what to do when you have all the evidence you need to investigate and prosecute those implicated in wrongdoing – to prosecute to the fullest extent of the law.

The action by the US Government shows what can be done when the political will exists to steer South Africa in the right direction.

Mr Ramaphosa, this single act by the US Government has done more in the fight against State Capture than you and your administration have done to undo and act against this mass form of unabated corruption.

DA welcomes court decision to deny Zuma a stay of prosecution

The Democratic Alliance (DA) welcomes the decision taken by the Pietermaritzburg Division of the KwaZulu-Natal High Court to deny former President Jacob Zuma’s application for a permanent stay of prosecution. Mr. Zuma’s application was dismissed with costs.

The DA believes that Mr. Zuma has a case to answer. We have been at the forefront of the fight to make sure that he is not allowed to escape accountability, despite his best attempts to interfere with the workings of the National Prosecuting Authority (NPA).

In 2009, after the dismissal of our initial application to overturn the decision of then National Director of Public Prosecutions (NDPP), Mokotedi Mpshe, to drop the charges against Mr. Zuma, we embarked on lengthy legal processes to have the so-called “spy tapes” released. Mpshe’s decision was based on these “spy tapes” and we believed it essential for transparency and justice that these recordings be made available for scrutiny.

The NPA was ordered, in 2011, to provide the DA with a full record of Mpshe’s decision, inclusive of the complete “spy tapes.” They failed to do so, citing objections lodged by Mr. Zuma’s legal team, but was finally forced to hand the tapes over in 2014. After that, the DA entered into further legal processes to have Mpshe’s decision declared irrational. This battle was also finally won in late 2017, when the Supreme Court of Appeal upheld a ruling of the High Court overturning Mpshe’s decision to drop charges.

We are encouraged by the ruling of the court to believe that Zuma will eventually have to face his day in court. The arc of the moral universe is often said to be long, but ultimately bending toward justice. The DA will not rest until justice has been done.

Our collapsing public service makes NHI impossible

The Democratic Alliance (DA) can today reveal that the collapse of the South African public service’s ability to execute its most basic functions is accelerating. Two months ago, the DA reported that national and provincial governments owed businesses a combined R7.1 billion in unpaid invoices older than 30 days at the end of March 2019. Today we can reveal that, in the span of only three months between April and June 2019, provincial governments have racked up an additional R4.3 billion in debt that it failed to pay to the hardworking businesspeople and workers of South Africa.

The only exception to this outright state of collapse is the DA-run Western Cape, which accounts for only 0.01% of outstanding debt. Because the DA views a flourishing private sector as the key to unlocking growth and prosperity, we make sure that we pay our suppliers on time. In contrast, it appears that the ANC is hellbent on collapsing the private sector, with ANC-led provinces like Gauteng and the Eastern Cape refusing to pay the close to R1.5 billion and R1.8 billion debt they each racked up in just three months – that is on top of the billions they still owed at the end of the last financial year.

In light of the ANC’s plan to eliminate private healthcare in favour of National Health Insurance (NHI), perhaps the most alarming fact of all is that in 7 out of the 8 collapsing ANC-led provinces, the department of health is the worst offender. On 30 March 2019, provincial health departments owed R5.8 billion in unpaid invoices older than 30 days. Just three months later, they had racked up additional unpaid debt of R3.7 billion.

This constitutes clear evidence that the public service is nowhere near equipped to run the R256 billion NHI fund. The government cannot even ensure that the current public health sector pays providers and other contractors on time, yet they expect South Africans to put their lives in the hands of the same incompetent and corrupt cadres who cannot even process invoices.

In light of this new information, the DA reiterates our call on the ANC to scrap its plans for nationalizing healthcare and creating a giant “Eskom for healthcare” through the NHI, and instead adopting the DA’s Sizani Plan for Universal Healthcare. Our plan provides universal coverage that is free at the point of care without putting people’s lives in the hands of cadres. Instead of its NHI fantasies, the government should focus on getting the basics right by building a capable state that creates opportunities for citizens to prosper. We can only achieve this by eradicating cadre deployment, basing appointments on merit and skill, and giving the Public Service Commission much greater power to act against the officials suffocating the life out of our economy.

DA unequivocally supports English and Afrikaans as primary and equal languages of instruction at Stellenbosch University

The Democratic Alliance (DA) unequivocally supports the use of both English and Afrikaans as primary and equal languages of instruction at Stellenbosch University (SU).

The Constitutional Court today ruled that SU’s language policy – which allows for English and Afrikaans to be used interchangeably as mediums of instruction for undergraduate studies – is in fact constitutionally justified.

The University’s language policy has been a contentious and often divisive one. Driven by populist and exclusionary narratives in an attempt to divide us.

The DA will not be drawn into these battles as they are not conducive to the project of nation building and reconciliation.

When it comes to the language rights of students and learners across the country – the DA will always support the constitutional principle that every person has the right to be taught in the official language of their choice, where reasonably practicable.

Afrikaans has a rich academic history and has developed into a highly respected academic language across the world. Afrikaans, just like the rest of the indigenous languages, deserve equal protection and academic development.

We are strong proponents of mother tongue education. This is because South Africa can only progress when we accept and celebrate our diversity.

The DA believes in building inclusive campuses, where students are not excluded on the basis of language or any other characteristic.