Eleventh hour letter to ANC in the NCOP sees NHI pulled from order paper without any reason

Today, the ANC once again showed that it has a complete disregard for the rules of Parliament and due process.

The NCOP was supposed to have debated on the National Health Insurance (NHI) Bill today, but after allegedly receiving a mysterious letter, the ANC Chief Whip, together with its majority, quickly decided to postpone the deliberations to next week without any form of transparency.

At 1:32pm today, the DA received an email from the ANC Chief Whip of the NCOP wherein he requested a special whip meeting prior to the sitting in the House. It was there that the Chief Whip stated that the Chairperson of the NCOP, the Presiding Officer, had received a letter and requested time to deal with the matter.

No further information was provided; therefore, we are left with no choice but to speculate that this debate and vote on the NHI Bill was postponed due to the political, civil society and business interest pressure that the ANC government has been under.

The DA leader in the NCOP demanded that the letter and the reasons for the postponement be shared with all political parties. This was important because it cannot be that the executive can dictate to the legislature on its business.

The letter was not given to any of the parties and even now that the sitting has come to an end, no one has had sight of this mysterious letter even though it has completely disrupted the work of Parliament.

The DA was ready and set to reject the Bill today on the host of reasons why it will decimate not only the health sector but our economy as well. Some of these reasons include:

  1. South Africa is financially not able to finance the NHI, with the ANC refusing to do any feasibility studies in a post pandemic economy.
  2. This Bill will have a major impact on the cost of living by increasing taxes on an already overtaxed population, which will have a negative impact on all South Africans.
  3. The South African Medical Association (SAMA) has confirmed that the implementation of NHI will see hundreds of doctors emigrating overseas to escape the NHI.
  4. The Office of Health Standards Compliance (OHSC) has confirmed that only a fraction of public facilities and hospitals have scored sufficiently to become accredited service providers should the NHI come into operation, meaning we will be left with even fewer medical facilities.
  5. The NHI would give the Minister far too many powers and duties to essentially run the day-to-day business of the Fund and have unvetted powers to make far-reaching health regulations without necessary oversight.

The refusal of the ANC to play open cards with other Members of the NCOP comes as no surprise as they have obviously been given a wakeup call on how detrimental and damaging the NHI Bill really is. Whilst the contents are not known, it is presumed that the letter comes from business groups wherein they voice their displeasure for the Bill. They have joined the DA’s call for this Bill to be scrapped and for the wholesale overhaul of the health system to be done.

The ANC now appears to be scrambling to try and save face and come up with a plan to ensure that they are able to continue bulldozing the NHI Bill through Parliament just in time for its electioneering season. Whatever the letter contains, it must pose a significant threat to the ANC for them to completely unravel and pull an item from the agenda 15 minutes before the hearing is about to start.

It is unfathomable how the ANC continuously pushes through a Bill that has so many issues and concerns without considering any of the points validly raised by the DA and other opposition parties. Notwithstanding the glaring constitutional issues that the Bill has, it also has a number of legislative shortfalls and clauses that are impractical and impossible to implement.

Should the NHI Bill eventually come before the House we call upon all parties to reject it with the contempt its unconstitutional provisions deserve, which will send it to a mediation committee between the NCOP and NA where it can be left to lapse and ultimately be sent to its grave after wasting millions of Rands already in resources and time.

The DA has been fighting the NHI at every step in the process and will continue to fight it in the courts should the President refuse to listen to logic and reason from political parties, civil societies, medical professionals, and society as a whole.

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