LETTER FROM THE DM168 EDITOR
Deep dives into the underworld, our dysfunctional capital city and the Karpowership saga
An exclusive investigation by award-winning journalist Caryn Dolley, an astonishing story by esteemed financial journalist Reg Rumney and a distillation of the emergency power deal by our own Ray Mahlaka are just some of the highlights from this week’s edition of DM168.
Dear DM168 readers,
We’ve put together a fine mix of fun and food for thought in this week’s issue of DM168, leading the newspaper with a jaw-dropping exclusive investigation from our very own inimitable digger into the depths of the global and local underworld, Caryn Dolley.
Caryn, who is like a gentle golden retriever that just will not let go of that bone, tries to get to the bottom of the Constantia killings, and the Bulgarian criminals involved in drugs, diamonds and credit card fraud who all have some South African links.
For those of you who, like me, wonder how the heck the Jacaranda City, our beautiful administrative capital, got to lose its bloom and staggers from one financial disaster to the next, esteemed financial journalist Reg Rumney delved deep into Tshwane’s budget and books, and has quite a story to tell. It’s a tale which demands that the ANC, the DA coalition and their here-today-gone-tomorrow Cope and EFF allies start talking and listening to the residents they are meant to serve.
Our business writer Ray Mahlaka has gone to the trouble of wading through hundreds of pages of documents about the controversial Karpowership deal and, to save you from having to do the same, he has distilled all of this information into less than 1,000 words so you can understand the fine print and the bottom line of this whopping expense for emergency electricity supply.
Now that you know what’s in store for you once you go out to buy or peruse the pages of our paper, let’s chew the fat about what’s been going on in our land in need of a lifebuoy.
This week, Parliament passed the National Health Insurance (NHI) Bill, which I have to say smells like desperation on the part of the ANC. Despite supporters and critics alike saying the bill needs much more work before it can do what it promises — bring quality healthcare to all — the ANC bulldozed the Bill through Parliament.
I support National Health Insurance. I do believe that quality healthcare should be accessible to all and that something needs to be done to curb the rampant and avaricious global exploitation of the sick for profit. Even the 16% of us who can afford basic medical aid still have to fork out exorbitant amounts in co-payments, and shortfalls for medication and treatment. And woe betide you and your ever-shrinking bank balance if you have a disease that falls outside of the prescribed minimum benefits.
An NHI that is well managed and professionally staffed with caring, qualified doctors and nurses has had broad consultation in its formation, and is properly funded, could provide greater access to quality healthcare for all of us, whatever we earn and wherever we live. Just as it does in other developing economies like Thailand, Brazil and Rwanda, and in more developed countries such as Canada, Sweden and the UK. It might also curb the spiralling cost of healthcare that’s way over inflation. The problem is implementation. And that we cannot believe a single lick-and-a-prayer promise from our current governing party.
My biggest issue with the rush job to enforce NHI is the very glaring fact of greed, corruption and incompetence of officials in all spheres of government. Here’s a random example. The head of the Special Investigation Unit (SIU), Andy Mothibi, spoke of not one, two or 20 but 6,140 government officials who the SIU identified were claiming from UIF to the value of R41,009,737, making use of 3,959 bank accounts.
Simply put, our civil service is sick. And civil servants in the provincial health departments are, quite frankly, the sickest of them all. We cannot rely on the people who murdered good civil servants like Babita Deokaran, who, as reported in News24’s investigation “Silenced”, tried to stop R100-million in dodgy payments and flagged R850-million in other suspicious transactions at the Gauteng Department of Health before she was killed. This is the same Gauteng Department of Health that callously caused the deaths of 144 mentally ill patients in the Life Esidimeni disaster and whose officials were implicated in PPE tender irregularities worth millions of rands.
And countrywide, in all provinces, this is the same health system that outgoing health ombud Professor Malegapuru Makgoba described as “a dysfunctional mess”.
Surely we need to first fix this mess. For starters, get all clinics and hospitals functioning efficiently to serve and care for patients. Remove the corrupt and callous who do not care about patients. Replace them with leadership-minded and hearted managers, administrators and health professionals, of which there are many. Once this is achieved, the NHI can kick off on a fresh footing in service of all as opposed to becoming just another place to pilfer for the politically connected few.
Fluit-fluit. That’s it from me this week. Hope you all have a relaxing long weekend.
Yours in defence of truth and good healthcare for all,
Share your thoughts with me at [email protected]
This story first appeared in our weekly Daily Maverick 168 newspaper, which is available countrywide for R29.