Note to editors: Please find attached soundbite by Michele Clarke MP
The Minister of Health, Dr Joe Phaahla’s actions regarding an investigation into tender corruption in the North West, as well as his response to the DA’s call to place the Eastern Cape Department of Health under administration is a chilling foreshadowing of a National Health Insurance (NHI) public health system.
Media reports have revealed an attempted cover-up of R1.2 billion tender corruption. It is very suspicious that every effort is being made to keep a report of an investigation by Adv Maile Ngake under wraps and that he has been suspended. The North West Health Department supply-chain management director, Dr Buyani Makhubu, who were absolved from any involvement, has since been fired.
Furthermore, the national Health Department’s deputy director of primary healthcare and the designated accounting officer during the four-year administration of the province, Jeanette Hunter, were not suspended despite the Ngake report recommendation and an investigation into the role she played in the irregular awarding of the security contracts. Ms Hunter also forms part of a Public Protector investigation for the irregular outsourcing of professional service for conducting disciplinary inquiries.
All of this not only under Minister Phaahla’s watch, but also with his support it seems, with anonymous sources telling News24 that the Minister allegedly suspended Adv Ngake for his report.
The Minister’s reaction to the DA’s call to place the EC Department under administration shows a serious lack of care for the public’s public health woes in that province.
Numerous oversights to the province have revealed horrendous conditions with dangerous and unsanitary public health facilities, staff shortages, record-keeping challenges, medicine stock-outs, and much of the budget going to medico-legal claims. It is very worrying that the Minister seems to tout the NHI as the province’s answer to their financial problems.
The Minister of Finance, Enoch Godongwana, has repeatedly stated that the country does not have the funds to implement NHI, and the province cannot rely on Minister Phaahla’s pipe dream to deliver quality health care to the public. They need concrete turn-around strategies as a matter of urgency, not electioneering fodder that will cripple an already buckling public health sector.
Under the ANC government, the NHI will be nothing more than a feeding fest for the politically connected.