Gro Harlem Brundtland. Picture: BERNT SONVISEN/FLICKR
Gro Harlem Brundtland. Picture: BERNT SONVISEN/FLICKR

Global leaders known as the Elders are expected in SA this week in support of the National Health Insurance (NHI). 

Gro Harlem Brundtland, former prime minister of Norway in 1981, 1986/1989, and 1990/1996, will be in the country to promote the health insurance initiative. Brundtland was also the director-general of the World Health Organisation from 1998 to 2003.

Also in the country is Ricardo Lagos, the former president of Chile. They will meet President Cyril Ramaphosa on Tuesday, when they will be joined by Graca Machel, who also a member of the Elders. A public discussion and visits to two hospitals with health minister Zweli Mkhize in Johannesburg on Monday will form part of their itinerary.

Founded by former president Nelson Mandela, the Elders grouping is an organisation of independent global leaders working together for peace and human rights. Other members are former UN secretary-general Ban Ki-moon and Ellen Johnson Sirleaf, former president of Liberia.

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The Elders have been campaigning for universal health coverage throughout the world since 2016 and will come out in support of NHI on Monday and Tuesday, a media advisory said.

The advisory ahead of the visit said the gesture of confidence in the NHI by the Elders is a “much needed affirmation in a country that is just grappling with the idea since the bill was recently introduced to parliament”.

The controversial National Health Insurance Bill was recently published after it was tabled in parliament in August. It is the first piece of enabling legislation for the government’s ambitious plans for implementing universal health coverage.

They will also address the portfolio committee on health in parliament and a press briefing at the media centre in parliament.

More reaction to finance minister Tito Mboweni’s economic strategy paper is expected this week.

After the surprise release of the discussion document last week for public comment, the reforms detailed have been welcomed by the DA and business sector. The ANC’s alliance partner Cosatu has called for it to be withdrawn, citing a lack of consultation, among others issues.

While the SA Communist Party, has noted “with serious concern” the release of the document, the alliance partner will hold an augmented central committee meeting on the weekend when it will deal with both the process and substance of the document.

The Treasury has called on the public to make says directly to the department until September 15.

The strategy paper suggests that should both short- and long-term interventions be implemented, as much as 2-3 percentage points could be added to GDP growth and more than 1-million job opportunities created.

The National Assembly will on Thursday debate the unemployment crisis in the country. The debate is sponsored by DA leader Mmusi Maimane, who has said the DA will use the debate to table the party's economic recovery plan.

It will be a busy week in parliament, with two debates, 42 committee meetings and several oversight visits.

On Tuesday, the standing committee on appropriations will receive comment from the Financial and Fiscal Commission on the special appropriations bill which provides Eskom with a R59bn bailout over two years.

The standing committee on finance will be briefed by the Treasury and the SA Revenue Service on  the 2019 Draft Taxation Laws Amendment Bill, among other topics.

On Wednesday, a joint meeting of the standing committees on finance, public accounts, and the portfolio committees on trade and industry, public service and administration and police will receive an update on Steinhoff.

Ministers in the peace and security cluster and the social services cluster will appear in the National Assembly and the National Council of Provinces for oral questions this week.  

SA navy and air force representatives will appear before the joint standing committee on defence on Friday, to brief it on the sea-hours, flying hours and the capacity constraints for effective utilisation of naval and air assets

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