Tender dispute denies SA military veterans healthcare

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A long-standing R200m tender dispute has left many SA military veterans without access to healthcare, reports The New Age.

The South African National Military Veterans (SANMVA) national secretary Tshidi Paka said his office had been inundated with “agonising calls” from military veterans suffering from chronic diseases.

“More than 100 military veterans were admitted to public hospital and some died from various ailments this financial year. Every day we receive requests that members need to be admitted to health facilities,” he said.

Last year the department appointed Zeal Health Innovations as a service provider for primary healthcare services, dedicated counselling services and medical evaluation of military veterans. The contract has been halted, with the department claiming irregularities in the awarding of the contract in court.

However, the report says, in a sworn affidavit the department’s acting director-general Christopher Tebogo Kebotlhale said the bid evaluation committee (BEC) carefully considered each bid. At the time Kebotlhale was the chair of the BEC.

Paka has accused the Department of Military Veterans of failing to resolve their healthcare problems speedily. “We have pleaded with the ministry that the matter needed urgent attention because more than 14,000 veterans are subjected to illnesses and cannot afford to travel to military hospitals,” he said. The report said SANMVA is the umbrella body of eight military veterans association in the country.

Department of Military Veterans spokesperson Mbulelo Musi said they had communicated with the associations to refer their members to the department for the resolution of their health-related problems. “We have 18 provincial coordinators, two in each province, and we have also established a health desk to ensure easier and quicker access to healthcare. “We also reach out and visit the veterans who are sick and provide them with transport to hospital. The department settles their medical bills,” he said. Musi said they were in a process to restructure the department as “many provinces are very vast and our outreach campaign is not coping”. “We are going to establish regional offices and appeal to the associations to work with us,” he said.

The report says in court papers, Kebotlhale claims that Lifeni Make, who was the deputy director-general for corporate services and now acting director-general, was “blocking the tenders” after his preferred company lost its tender bid.

Full report in The New Age

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