SERP comments on the National Department of Health's Annual Report 2013/14

On 15 October 2014 the Socio-Economic Rights Project of the Community Law Centre made a submission before the Parliamentary Portfolio Committee on Health. The Community Law Centre, which is part of the civil society Budget Expenditure Monitoring Forum (BEMF) made a written and oral submission on the National Department of Health's Annual Report 2013/14, together with the Treatment Action Campaign (TAC) and Amnesty International.

Before Community Law Centre, TAC and Amnesty International made their submissions, the Portfolio Committee received input from the Auditor-General's Office on the Audit outcomes of the Health portfolio and health sector for the 2013-14 financial year.

Thokozile Madonko coordinator of the BEMF, who made a submission of behalf of TAC, says that the Auditor-General (AG) highlighted that the performance of the health sector was, again, of concern with 7 of the Provinces having audits of Qualified with Findings and only North West, Western Cape and the National Department having an unqualified audit finding.

The AG’s report further emphasized on findings of expenditure that was deemed to be unauthorised, irregular and fruitless and wasteful. All the 9 Provinces and the National Department incurred irregular expenditure of R7.1 billion in 2013/14. This means all 10 departments were unable to demonstrate to the AG that when spending money they could provide the necessary receipts to verify that they had complied with the necessary legal procedures and processes. It is critical that we know that all resources that are meant for the delivery of health services in South Africa are being used in an open, fair and transparent manner ensuring value for money. It appears the health sector for 2013-14 could not provide such assurances to the South African public.

The submissions by the Community Law Centre, TAC and Amnesty International had a mixed reception from the Portfolio Committee on Health. While some of the members of the Portfolio Committee countered the recommendations made by the civil society organisations, others members welcomed their input. An important outcome of the submission was that the Chair of the Committee made a public commitment to engage with the BEMF TAC, Community Law Centre and Amnesty International in the future.

For more information please see minutes: Parliamentary Monitoring Group (PMG)