FState Health MEC undermining NHI public participation process - Siviwe Gwarube

Govt sponsored leaflet advocates for support of the NHI Bill

DA calls on Minister Mkhize to condemn Free State Health MEC’s undermining of NHI public participation process

The Democratic Alliance (DA) has learnt with grave concern that the Free State Health MEC, Ms. Montseng Ts’lu, has sanctioned a Free State Government sponsored leaflet which advocates for the support of the National Health Insurance (NHI) Bill. More concerningly this petition claims that the signatories are doing so on behalf of all ‘members of our society’ and the provincial cabinet. 

This is a clear undermining of Parliament’s role and its legislative processes. Nothing prevents the Free State Government from submitting their comments to Parliament but cannot mislead ordinary South Africans to being signatories to this submission. It is inappropriate and dishonest. 

This Bill is now before Parliament and the public participation process is being rolled out in each province by Parliament as part of the institution’s constitutional obligation. It is only Parliament, through this process, that can engage the public on this Bill and collate those inputs for the legislative process. The Executive has absolutely nothing to do with this process and should refrain from attempting to not only sway public sentiment but also to mislead the public by coercing them to sign dubious petitions. 

The DA has also been reliably informed that healthcare professionals are also being bullied into signing the MEC’s petition at various health facilities. This is a complete betrayal of the people of South Africa and by extension those healthcare professionals. For the state to flex its muscles in this manner is truly astounding. 

The DA will be formally lodging a complaint with the Health Minister, Dr. Zweli Mkhize and challenge him to demand that these leaflets be recalled and that he condemns this deeply problematic move by the MEC and her department. In addition, the Chairperson of the Portfolio Committee of Health, Dr. Sibongiseni Dhlomo needs to publicly condemn this undermining of our parliamentary process and ensure that ahead of the public hearings in the Free State, these leaflets are recalled.

 The ANC government and its party structures seem to struggle with the basic understanding of Constitutional provisions such as the separation of powers which is key for accountability and serving the people of South Africa fairly. In addition to this, the ANC is committed to railroad this legislation at all costs and has stooped to some pretty low levels to mislead South Africans about what the Bill is about and what it will seek to do. 

The DA has long held that the healthcare system in our country needs urgent reform so that the millions of South Africans who have been relegated to our ailing healthcare system, can have their lives dramatically improved. The DA unequivocally supports universal healthcare, however, the NHI Bill will not achieve this. It will put billions of public money in the hands of the politically connected and do nothing to improve health outcomes. That is why the DA will continue to oppose this Bill. We will also guard against the ANC’s desire to mislead the nation and undermine the public participation process.

Statement issued by Siviwe Gwarube MP, DA Shadow Minister of Health, 28 November 2019