South Africa is ready for NHI
Ramaphosa vows to fight against rot and state capture
MORE than 44 million people have already been registered in the Electronic Health Patient Registration System after the collection of patient information from more than 3 000 clinics across the country. President Cyril Ramaphosa made these revelations during his State of the Nation Address (Sona) in Cape Town last night.
Ramaphosa said the fundamental condition for growth and development was a healthy, productive population, with access to quality, affordable health care.
His government had noted the enthusiastic support from South Africans during public hearings on the National Health Insurance (NHI) scheme and mechanisms were being put in place for its implementation after the parliamentary process was concluded, he said.
The president’s remarks that the country was ready for NHI came amid objections from Afriforum. The civil rights organisation this week asked for an urgent meeting with Health Minister Zweli Mkhize to highlight the organisation’s objections and concerns regarding the NHI scheme.
Afriforum said the implementation of NHI “could lead to the downgrade of the country’s investment status to junk”.
Natasha Venter, Afriforum’s spokesperson on NHI, said: “The Department of Health is year after year one of the departments with the poorest audits and the taxpayer cannot afford a tax increase to merely fund yet another government policy (that is doomed to fail).”
Ramaphosa revealed that he had established the Presidential Working Group on Disability to advise his office on measures to advance the empowerment of people with disabilities.
Corruption was another focal point of the State of the Nation Address, with Ramaphosa vowing to launch a national anti-corruption strategy during the year.
“We will not let up in the fight against corruption and state capture,” he said, adding South Africa had to upgrade its culture of reporting acts of crime. He said the battle could only be won if the entire country was involved.
He said the Zondo Commission of Inquiry into State Capture had the full support of the state. He promised to release the report of the commission of inquiry into alleged corruption at the Public Investment Corporation.
He said the government was working on stabilising state-owned entities (SOES) to repurpose them to support growth and development.
“After years of state capture, corruption and mismanagement, we are working to ensure that all SOES are able to fulfil their developmental mandate ad be financially sustainable.”
On land expropriation, Ramaphosa said the government was implementing the key recommendations of the presidential advisory panel on land reform and agriculture to accelerate land distribution, expand agricultural production to transform the industry.
“Government stands ready – following the completion of the parliamentary process to amend section 25 of the Constitution – to table an expropriation bill that outlines the circumstances under which expropriation of land without compensation (will) be permissible.”
He said the government had so far released 44 000 hectares of state land for settlement of land restitution claims and that this year it would release about 70 000 hectares of state land for agricultural production.
He said a new beneficiary selection policy included compulsory training of potential beneficiaries before land could be allocated to them.
On education, the president announced that the government was building nine TVET colleges. On the list were Greytown, Msinga and Nongoma in Kwazulu-natal. A new University of Science and Innovation would be established in Ekurhuleni as it was the only metro in the country without a university.
Ramaphosa also tackled the issue of load shedding, saying it was an inevitable consequence of Eskom’s inability over the years to service its power plants.
“The reality that we need to accept is that for Eskom to undertake the fundamental maintenance necessary to improve the reliability of supply, load shedding will remain a possibility for the immediate future.”
However, he added: “Over the next few months, as Eskom works to restore its operational capabilities, we will be implementing measures that will fundamentally change the trajectory of energy generation in our country.”
He said an integrated resource plan enabling the development of additional capacity from renewable energy, natural gas, hydro power, battery storage and coal would be put into effect.
“We will initiate the procurement of emergency power from projects that can deliver electricity into the grid within three to 12 months from approval.”
The government would negotiate power purchase agreements to acquire additional capacity from existing wind and solar plants.
Measures would be put in place to enable municipalities to procure their own power from independent power producers.
President Cyril Ramaphosa delivered his State of the Nation Address last night after disruptions by the EFF as they demanded former president FW de Klerk leave Parliament.