President Cyril Ramaphosa says government will keep a "hawk's eye" on finances for the National Health Insurance fund to safeguard it from corruption.
Ramaphosa was giving oral replies to questions from members of Parliament in the National Assembly on Thursday. He was responding to a question from ANC MP Sibongiseni Dhlomo about what stringent measures will be in place to safeguard the NHI from corruption during its implementation, given the track record of governance challenges at state owned enterprises (SOEs).
"We will make sure we keep a hawk's eye on the finances of NHI as the fund does its work," Ramaphosa said. He assured that government will consider the lessons learnt from the failures at SOEs and make sure not to repeat them. "We would want to run a clean shop in our NHI Fund," he said.
Ramaphosa also responded to a question from Freedom Front Plus MP Philippus van Staden about his reaction to certain JSE-listed healthcare and pharmaceutical companies' share value falling after the NHI Bill was tabled in Parliament earlier in August.
'Negative, alarmist' messages
Ramaphosa said that share value plummeted because certain people in the country are "against transformation" and have been sending "negative, alarmist" messages about NHI when government is working to ensure social justice.
"Those people do not realise we can lose everything if we do not introduce a measure like this one.
"I feel sorry for those who lost money, but losses on the stock market happen from time to time. Sometimes it can take a president from another country to say something and the stock market can be wiped out, or someone can say something positive and it [stock market] goes up," he said.
"That is the vagaries of the market," Ramaphosa added.
He said that the country needs to implement a programme that serves the majority of the people.
"When the real facts of NHI sink in and people understand what NHI is about, those stocks will start going up," Ramaphosa said.
At a Cabinet briefing earlier on Thursday, Minister in the Presidency Jackson Mthembu urged the public to engage with the bill. "Parliament will afford the public an opportunity to engage with the bill as the health portfolio committee takes it through consultation.
"Once enacted, the bill will give universal access to healthcare for all South Africans regardless of their socioeconomic background," he said.
Mthembu added that government will ensure NHI is effected in a responsible manner.