Towards better health ... and a healthier ANC

2010-09-21 18:15

Government will introduce new tax laws and surcharges to raise R128 billion to fund the proposed National Health Insurance (NHI) scheme which will start in 2012.

The funding will be drawn from a variety of new taxes and surcharges, with the bulk of the cash drawn from allocations from general taxations.

This was revealed today by Dr Zweli Mkhize, chairperson of the ANC NEC sub-committee on health and education.

Mkhize said the sub-committee had made significant progress on its investigation into the NHI and the team was ready to report to both the NGC and a ministerial advisory committee.

The NHI would be run by a publicly administered fund – operating like SARS – and located in the health ministry. It would create a single insurance pool to cover the health costs of all South African citizens and legal residents.

The NHI fund would cover costs of treatment from accredited public and private service providers, and would provide cover from primary health level at clinic or doctor level to high-care in hospitals. The scheme would cover the entire population – but those who wanted to continue with private medical schemes could do so.

Mkhize said the system would be accompanied by a strengthening of the public health care system, with “much improvement in quality” expected within five years.

The NHI budget for 2012 is pegged at R128 billion, increasing to R267 billion in 2020 and tripling to R376 billion in 2025. The current health slice of the budget of 12% would have to be increased to 14,5% to fund the NHI.

Mkhize said the team found that the NHI would provide health care at less than the current combined cost to the private and public sector of R200 billion in 2010.

Human Sciences Research Council head Olive Shisana said the scheme will have to undergo legislative processes before it starts in 2012.

Mistakes were made
In his organisational report and during an earlier briefing, ANC secretary-general Gwede Mantashe defended the ­much-criticised ANC policy of cadre deployment, but admitted that mistakes had been made in appointing candidates to positions which they were not suitable for.

Mantashe said the party had a duty to balance “political integrity and professional competence” when deploying its members to positions.

“Mistakes committed by our structures in deploying cadres who do not even meet basic requirements for the post they are deployed in have opened the movement to unfair criticism,” Mantashe said.

He also lambasted ministers and other deployees in government who appointed parastatal board members without consulting the ruling party’s deployment committee. He said failure to address this problem would continue undermining the work of the committee and frustrate those who serve on the committee.

“The biggest danger is when a short-cut is taken in the deployment process, the movement finds it difficult to intervene when there is a fallout,” said Mantashe’s organisational report.

The ANC has grown its membership by 127 875 since the Polokwane conference in 2007. This comes despite internal squabbles which led to formation of the breakaway party, Congress of the People.

The root of all evil
The ANC grew marginally in six provinces — the Eastern Cape, Gauteng, KwaZulu-Natal, Limpopo, North West and the Western Cape — but slightly lost support in the Free State, Mpumalanga and the Northern Cape.

However, the ruling party was still rocked by infighting, factionalism and vote-buying, Mantashe noted.

“The influence of money in our processes has the biggest potential to change the character of the movement from being people-centred and people-driven in all the processes, to one where power is wielded by a narrow circle of those who own and/or control resources.

“This is at the centre of the resurgence of factionalism in the movement where contestation is neither political nor ideological but driven by narrow interests,” he said.

The ANC secretary-general warned against an emerging perception that daggers were always drawn and that there was no political life in the party other than vying for positions.

“This reduces the important political activity of electing leadership into permanent conspiracy and plotting, without giving it the necessary political and programmatic content.

Mantashe repeated his charge at a briefing this morning that the current 2012 succession debate was artificial. The ANC secretary-general faces a challenge from the ANC Youth League which wants him to make way for its former leader Fikile Mbalula at the party’s 2012 elective conference.

“It is not correct to say when the youth league, simply because it is vocal ... makes a proposal it is law,” he said.

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