Minister of Education, Jacob Nkate has disregarded advice from the Auditor General and mission officials at the Botswana Embassy in South Africa to terminate the company contracted to over medical aid to Botswana students in South Africa.
The minister has instead extended the contract for the company by an additional one year from April 1, 2008 to March 31, 2009.
The medical cover for Batswana sponsored students throughout South Africa is provided by African Life Health which in turn has subcontracted Ingwe Medical Association
In his report for the financial year ending 31 March 2008, the Auditor General said he shared the view of the mission staff that “it would be advantageous for the Ministry in value for money terms and for students in terms of medical aid benefits if the policy was renegotiated or the medical aid cover given out to fresh tenders.”
The Auditor General reported that from inquiries and discussions with Botswana mission staff, it emerged that the close to P14 million per annum scheme “ had severe restrictions with regard to benefits and easy access to medical service providers which results in students virtually paying their medical bills instead of being covered by the medical scheme.”
Nkate told Parliament this week that the contract has not been renewed, but was extended for one year from April 1, 2008 to March 31, 2009 in order to allow time for the preparation of tender documentation for procurement of a new contract.
Mr Nkate said his ministry has since engaged Public Enterprises Evaluation and Privatisation Agency (PEEPA) to assist with the engagement of advisory/ brokerage services of a medical scheme expert who is conversant with the medical scheme practices and legislative arrangements in the South African environment.
He said the expert will assist the ministry to assess client’s needs, prepare and align tender documents to the requirements of the Botswana procurement procedures and assist in identifying and selecting potential bidders.
“This process will also involve interviewing of students so as to close existing gaps and loopholes in the current contract,” said Mr Nkate.
He said it is not true that Ingwe does not pay for the student’s medical needs but instead refer them to various practitioners.
The minister noted that the scheme has a list of registered doctors who are paid a capitation fee per month by the scheme.
Mr Nkate said the doctors are spread throughout the entire South Africa and that students do not pay for any drugs except if they fall under non-essential lists such as Vitamin C enrichments.
The minister was answering a question from Tonota South MP, Pono Moatlhodi.