ANC continues with unconstitutional NHI Bill

Issued by Michele Clarke MP – DA Shadow Minister of Health
23 Aug 2022 in News

Instead of heeding the DA’s caution, the ANC has decided to continue their habit of ignoring the Constitution by deliberating the National Health Insurance (NHI) Bill despite the North Gauteng High Court declaring it unconstitutional.

The chairperson of the parliamentary portfolio committee on health, Dr Kenneth Jacobs, ignored the DA’s written request that deliberations on the NHI Bill be pended until the issue of constitutionality is decided upon.

The High Court’s judgement found sections 36 to 40 of the National Health Act unconstitutional. These sections specifically related to Certificates of Need (CON). The NHI Bill relies heavily on these CONs in order to force doctors to work in appalling conditions, without working equipment or adequate supplies in hospitals. The CONs are a fundamental and core part of the NHI and the Bill cannot possibly go ahead now that these sections have been provisionally declared unconstitutional.

To date, Dr Jacobs has failed and/or refused to respond to the DA and instead, the committee will be sitting today from 09:30 to 20:00 deliberating unconstitutional provisions clause by clause. This sitting not only flies in the face of constitutionalism but also is a complete waste of time. Members of the committee should be focusing their attention elsewhere such as the shocking conditions of public hospitals like Livingstone or Pelonomi in the Eastern Cape and Free State, respectively.

The DA’s letter to the chairperson advised him that this is not the first time an ANC majority committee decided to bulldoze a Bill through the committee, only for it to be declared unconstitutional and be set aside. The AARTO Act as well as the accompanying AARTO Amendment Act are perfect examples. Wasting a full day of deliberating on an unconstitutional Bill is a complete waste of everyone’s time.

It is atrocious that the majority people in South Africa’s only hope for healthcare is poorly run public hospitals. And these are the heath care facilities that are meant to be the foundation of the NHI. In the 28 years that the ANC government have been in government, the public health care system has continually declined. There has been nothing but empty promises to address the serious institutional problem. The NHI is another pipe dream that will rob Treasury of money that could be spent to upgrade and maintain hospitals and clinics.

The DA trusts that common sense will prevail, and the deliberations will be paused pending the confirmation from the Constitutional Court.