Charter’s speed worries parliament

Parliament is concerned about the speed with which a charter for the health-care industry was drafted and plans to call the health department to account for it.

The head of Parliament’s portfolio committee on health, James Ngculu, yesterday said Parliament was making arrangements for health department officials to be quizzed by MPs over the charter, which he said contained “unrealistic” goals for black ownership.

The health charter, released by Health Minister Manto Tshabalala Msimang last month, is supposed to be a blueprint for increasing black ownership in the health-care sector, and improving the standard of medical care provided to patients, particularly the poor.

The contents of the draft charter needed closer scrutiny before the health department sought its approval from the trade and industry department, which oversees black economic empowerment, said Ngculu.

The draft charter lacked vision, failed to address the fundamental health issues facing SA, and placed too much emphasis on black economic empowerment, he said. It was also unclear how the drafting team calculated its figures.

“The targets (for black empowerment) are a good wish, but are unrealistic,” he said.

The draft charter says health-care businesses should strive

  • to be 26% black-owned as soon as possible,
  • and 35% black-owned by 2010, rising to 51% by 2014.

    Furthermore, the document says
  • 60% of firms’ procurement must be from black-owned firms or black people by 2010, rising to 80% by 2014,
  • Blacks should constitute 60% of the workforce by 2010 and 70% by 2014.

    Key players in the health industry have complained that the document was written without sufficient input from key stakeholders.

    “Government is apparently prepared to place millions of lives at risk simply for the sake of enriching a tiny elite and tightening state control,” Tony Leon said in his weekly SA Today newsletter.

    Source: Tamar Khan Charter’s speed ‘worries’ parliament, Business Day, 24 August 2005

    For Text:

    For more on the Health Charter:

    FMF Policy Bulletin/ 30 August 2005
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