DA: Statement by Mike Waters, Democratic Alliance Shadow Deputy Minister of Health, on the new Director General (02/10/2009)

2nd October 2009

The national health department has once against received a qualified audit report, which means that in the eight years since 2001, the department has received only one unqualified report (in 2002/03). This is the legacy of the outgoing director-general (DG), Thami Mseleku, and whoever replaces him will face the momentous challenge of getting the department's systems and finances back on track. We wish him or her luck.

The Democratic Alliance will be calling on the new DG, as soon as he or she is confirmed, to as a first step develop minimum requirements for all health department managers, and ensure that these minimum requirements are met by all current and new staff. Earlier this year, a report was presented to the fourth South African Aids Conference that most Health Department staff were employed for their affiliation to the ANC, and that most have no management training. We believe that this report explains the ongoing failure of the department to do its job properly.

The biggest problem identified in the audit report, which was tabled in Parliament yesterday, is the department's failure to use its oversight powers properly to ensure that provinces spend their conditional grants appropriately. The Auditor-General (AG) has reported on this year after year with no apparent action from the DG or the department.

While the government concerns itself with making empty threats to take over the powers of the Western Cape, on the basis of trumped-up claims, many provinces have been left, year after year, to completely mismanage their budgets, resulting in the chaos we currently see in the Free State health department.

The AG found, for example, that although the department had a framework in place to monitor the expenditure of conditional grants, it often did not adhere to it. It did not carry out quarterly visits and physical inspections, as it is required to do, and when it did obtain information, it did not properly evaluate the information or investigate problems.