Only ANC incompetence can save us now

David Bullard writes on the ruling party's planned death blow to the SA middle classes


As you’ve probably gathered I am a huge fan of intelligent comedy. I was brought up on the Goon Show and various other brilliant comedy radio shows on the BBC. When TV took off in the UK I was mesmerised by programmes like ‘Not Only but Also’, ‘That Was the Week that Was’ and ‘The Frost Report’ and then ‘Monty Python’s Flying Circus’ which led to such classics as ‘Not the Nine O’clock News’.

I was in my penultimate year at an all-boy’s boarding school in Sussex when Monty Python first appeared on TV screens and the routine was the same every week. Chairs in the common room would be arranged around the TV set with the comfy armchairs at the front reserved for prefects. As the start time for the programme arrived everyone would be told to shut up with the warning that any talking would get you thrown out of the common room.

Then the Sousa Liberty Bell march theme music would begin. The common room would be crowded with most of the 70 boys in the school boarding house and a reverent silence would fall. Then, after the programme had finished, we would try to remember the best lines from the sketches and try them out on each other. The dead parrot sketch lives on to this day and even Margaret Thatcher used it at a Conservative Party conference.

The beauty of this type of comedy as opposed to the foul mouthed stand up rants of local comedians like Jon Vlismas is that there is an assumption that the audience enjoys a certain level of intelligence. The key components to good visual comedy are perfect comic timing and a sense of the ridiculous. Get this right and you have the audience like putty in your hands.___STEADY_PAYWALL___

Which is why I must commend the ANC for this year’s golden comedy award, both for timing and for sheer ridiculousness. In the same week that the outgoing Ombudsman for Health, Professor Malegapuru Makgoba, described South Africa’s health system as a “dysfunctional mess”, the ANC passed the National Health Insurance (NHI) bill with 205 votes for and 125 against.

This brings the contentious bill closer to becoming law although, in fairness, there will be many legal challenges along the way and the chances of getting the show on the road at all are slim. Let’s face it…. we are a country with a government that can’t even run a functioning postal system. But that doesn’t mean that the ANC won’t destroy the bits that do work within the health system in the meantime.

The great thing about Prof Makgoba is that the ANC can’t play the race card against him as they did with Andre de Ruyter. As a medical professional Prof Makgoba’s opinions on the failure of the public health system need to be heeded.

He described the Eastern Cape as an “embarrassment”, the Free State as having “disorder and no harmony” and Gauteng as having a “Mickey Mouse led health department”. I doubt he is saying these things because he has a deep-rooted hatred of the ANC but because knows he is stating the obvious, there for all to see.

If he pretended, after what we know of Life Esidimeni, the Rahima Moosa Mother and Child Hospital and the many well publicised failures, fires etc. at other state run hospitals, that all was well then we would smell a rat. Then there are the millions that were syphoned off by connected ANC cadres in the various PPE scams during the COVID pandemic plus the almost R1 billion in alleged fraudulent payments authorised by the honchos at Tembisa Hospital.

So while the adoption of the NHI bill should come as no surprise to those of us now accustomed to living in a gangster state, we should be very afraid of the likely outcome.

For, let’s be absolutely honest with ourselves, this bill has absolutely nothing to do with providing world class health care for each and every South African, regardless of race, wealth or social standing. However, it does have everything to do with financial short termism on the part of the cadres and raiding the last available pool of untouched money in order to turn it into the sort of luxury items coveted by our beloved commies who suffer from low self esteem.

In short, the NHI will be great news for owners of luxury car dealerships and purveyors of the sort of designer bling favoured by so many of our useless, overweight, gauche politicians.

On Thursday 15th June I tuned into Gareth Cliff’s excellent podcast ‘The Burning Platform’ on “The NHI Dilemma" to listen to what Dr Jonathan Witt had to say about the threat of NHI. Jonathan is a fearless political commentator and is also a health professional operating within the public health system. He made the point that there are very good doctors and nurses within the system and that there are times when public healthcare works as well or even better than private healthcare.

Dr Witt started off by saying that the proposed NHI “is the most catastrophic piece of legislation that we have placed in South Africa in our history.

Eventually it will kill more people, black and white, than apartheid and that’s just the reality. If you think Eskom is a big deal, or that BEE has caused problems or you think that the ANC as a whole has been damaging to this country then you have no idea what will happen when we go into healthcare”.

In my experience Dr Witt is not given to irrational emotional outbursts so I was intrigued to hear what he had to say after this rather earth shattering opener. He made the very sensible point that if you don’t have electricity you can make a plan. Even if you don’t have water you can make a plan, difficult though that may be. But if you don’t have access to healthcare there is nothing you can do. If you have a disease and there is nobody there to treat it then you are screwed. All true but surely the whole point of NHI is that there will be plenty of free healthcare available for all?

Dr Witt doesn’t think so and with good reason. Nothing the SA government runs is functional so there’s no reason to suppose that an ANC run national healthcare system would be any different. Even if there were no corruption and theft (highly unlikely) the Buffoona Buffoona team would almost certainly cock things up majestically. Let’s face it, they can’t even get a Presidential trip to Ukraine and Russia right without cocking that up and throwing a few gratuitous insults of ‘racism’ at the Polish authorities just for good measure.

Dr Witt makes the excellent point that every single general practitioner is a private healthcare provider, often operating from buildings that double as their homes. So you would lose your family GP and be forced to attend an overcrowded public hospital. As Gareth Cliff pithily commented, the 9 million or so South Africans who have access to private healthcare at the moment will be in the same boat as the 50 million who don’t so we will all be equally badly off with no access to decent healthcare. Viva socialist equality viva!

Dr Witt made the point that a doctor in private practice will bill a patient or the relevant medical aid scheme for costs. Under the proposed NHI this would be illegal and one suggestion is that doctors would be salaried and paid considerably less by the state than they can earn currently. So guess what?

Doctors will either emigrate, particularly if they are younger, or just stop practicing.

It doesn’t seem to have occurred to the numbskulls pushing the NHI that there will be a mass exodus of medical specialists. So the first problem the ANC will face is a dwindling pool of professionals prepared to work in poorly equipped and neglected hospitals. Doesn’t sound like a tempting career path to me. Surely even Cuba with a population of only 11 million must run out of exportable doctors at some point?

Dr Witt also made the point that medical professionals make up a high percentage of the 600 000 top income tax payers in the country. So not only do we lose their skills if they emigrate but we also lose their tax contributions.

There is a knock-on problem with this though. If our top medical professionals leave and our healthcare system collapses completely as seems probable then what would be the point of any economically productive person remaining in the country?

One of the main attractions of moving to the Western Cape ten years ago, and particularly Somerset West, was the excellence of private healthcare in this part of the world; something you increasingly value as you get older.

The ANC have come up with some pretty crazy ideas over the years to put off both local and foreign investment. Threats of a wealth tax, expropriation of land without compensation (or more likely land grabs in the style of Zimbabwe), BEE and stifling racist employment laws all hang like a sword of Damocles over the economy.

None of these cause me to lose sleep at night because I am largely unaffected by them. However, the removal of my access to decent healthcare at a time when my wife and I will need it most scares the hell out of me. The only cold comfort I can find is that the Buffoona Buffoona are so useless at organising anything that I will hopefully be long gone before it all actually happens.