Lobby group, Afriforum has laid criminal charges against all nine heads of provincial Departments of Health in terms of Section 86 (1) of the Public Finance Management Act, 1999 (Act No. 1 of 1999) relating to irregular, fruitless, wasteful and unauthorised expenditure totalling over R5.8 billion during the 2017/2018 financial year.

The charges were laid at police stations in the nine provinces and forms part of the organisation’s campaign against the implementation of National Health Insurance (NHI). It coincides with the launch of a report by Afriforum earlier this week, detailing why it is of the opinion that the roll out of NHI will be unconstitutional. According to Afriforum, the impact study on which the NHI is based is totally inadequate, requiring the NHI Bill to be set aside.  

“When one considers the current state of affairs in the Department of Health, it is clear that the state doesn’t have the capacity to provide healthcare services to the whole country. It will therefore be unconstitutional for the state to effectively take control of the private health sector,” says Natasha Venter, AfriForum’s spokesperson for NHI.

She said that while government puts the blame for the poor quality of state healthcare on the private healthcare sector and those with medical aid, these people are already being prejudiced by state interference and misappropriation.

“Their taxes are already being misused by the Department of Health and they are resented by government when they purchase private medical services at their own expense. Furthermore, it is largely the government’s fault – due to the overregulation of the sector – that private medical care is so expensive,” says Venter.

Monique Taute, head of AfriForum’s Anti-corruption Unit says the proposed NHI scheme is politically motivated and that it will not materially improve the health outcomes of the poorest and most vulnerable members of society.

“The misuse of taxpayers’ money is a national crisis. This scheme will only contribute to the crisis. It is time for taxpayers to put pressure on the National Prosecuting Authority to make examples of heads of departments who do not fulfil their duties as prescribed by the Act. They are some of the biggest culprits in the misuse of taxpayers’ money,” Taute says.

Welcoming the recent establishment of the Anti-corruption Forum for Healthcare by President Cyril Ramaphosa, Taute said Afriforum hoped that the new body will act decisively in handling charges of irregular spending and misappropriation of healthcare funds and eradicate other corruption and fraud in the Health Department.