DA leads other opposition parties in walking out of committee meeting on NHI Bill

Issued by Michele Clarke MP and Lindy Wilson MP –
22 Mar 2023 in News

Note to editors: Please find attached soundbite by Michele Clarke MP.

Today, the DA members of the parliamentary portfolio committee on health walked out as objection to the ANC’s blatant attempt to bulldoze the National Health Insurance (NHI) Bill through Parliament. We were followed by other opposition parties.

As part of today’s meeting, legal opinions of both the Parliamentary Legal Advisor (PLA) and the State Law Advisors (SLA) were presented based on concerns raised by committee members regarding the constitutionality of the NHI Bill.

It took over two months for the two entities to deliver the 100 pages of legal opinions, with the PLA stating that the Bill was flawed and could be challenged constitutionally, while the SLA advised that the NHI Bill had no flaws at all.

In light of the two conflicting reports and the huge amount of information received from both the entities, the DA requested that today’s meeting be postponed so that legal opinions could be sought independently.

The request was denied by the Chairperson, Dr Kenneth Jacobs, and the Acting Chairperson, Elvis Kholwana Siwela (who stood in for Dr Jacobs today.)

The DA’s concerns that parties were not able to get proper legal opinions on over a hundred pages of documents in just two days, as many businesses had closed due to the long weekend, and our reasonable request supported by opposition parties were ignored and the ANC insisting that the meeting continue.

The ANC are desperate to get the unconstitutional NHI Bill passed before the end of the current parliamentary term. They were adamant that the meeting continue so that the Bill could be rushed to the National Council of Provinces (NCOP).

It is clear that the ANC is desperate to use the NHI Bill as an electioneering tool for the 2024 elections, as they have nothing else to offer South Africans.

The DA has written to the Parliamentary Chair of Chairs, Cedric Frolick, to request an urgent intervention in the matter and to our legal advisors requesting a letter to confirm that it is not possible to do justice to a 100-page document in just two days.