The President’s latest SONA has confirmed that he has chosen the politics of his party over fixing the challenges of the country.
His address was stitched together by slogans; based on information that is out of touch and delivered for no one else besides the ANC internal audience.
Once again, the people of South Africa became a distant consideration for him.
The President spoke about the enthusiasm for the proposed National Health Insurance Bill without giving the full context of the South African reality.
Having been to some of the most forgotten parts of this country in the past months, the demand for quality healthcare has been made clear by abantu bethu.
With every public hearing; in whichever town, South Africans told of horror experiences with the health system.
This is because, for the past 25 years, the health system has been shoddily patched up and carried by healthcare workers.
This public participation process has also revealed the lie which has been told to people who are desperate for change.
It became evident that many had been sold a dream that the failures of the ANC government will be immediately rectified by the NHI Bill.
Yet we know that this is not true.
Omama base Free State described the helplessness of waiting for an ambulance until the next day while a loved one is dying in their arms;
They spoke of the fear of needing life-saving ARVs and being told ayikho uze ubuye ngenye imini ngemali phofu abangayaziyo izokuvela phi;
Otata abadala base Vryburg articulated the limitation of facilities that have outdated infrastructure that cannot accommodate those who use it.
This immediately reminded me of the overcrowding that led to the death of 10 babies at Tembisa Hospital in a few weeks;
And the scar that will forever remind us that this government allowed for hundreds of mentally ill patients to die in the most undignified manner;
Many are victims of the nation-wide oncology crisis that has women from ezilalini bebhubha kabuhlungu yi-cervical cancer kuba kungekho ncedo.
The waiting period in Limpopo is close to a year from diagnosis to treatment.
There are cancer patients in this country who have been placed on a death waiting list while the ANC government izingomba isifuba ngokuzisa iinkonzo ebantwini.
The Chairperson of the Health Portfolio Committee, Dr Dhlomo, would know this well, as this was the case during his tenure as the KZN MEC for Health.
We should never be mistaken.
The people of South Africa know what they want.
They want dignity and a quality health system.
What is most tragic though is how the governing party is using the NHI Bill to mask its governance failures, promising an overnight transformation of the health system, when they know this is false.
This government knows that as the Bill stands, it will not improve the quality of healthcare for all South Africans;
It will not invest meaningfully in infrastructure and for better clinics and hospitals;
It will not ensure the filling of critical vacancies of nurses and doctors;
Or fix the tendering system that often leads to critical medication stockouts.
This Bill, misdiagnoses the problem and inevitably does not supply the solution.
South Africa needs universal healthcare. But does not need the flawed NHI Bill.
It is a poor and unaffordable funding model; that will empower the politically connected; create another SOE and still fail the millions who have been short-changed by this government.
In South Africa most people have access to healthcare but it is shockingly poor.
We cannot expect South Africans to wait any longer for the change they deserve.
At the same time, to place 58 million South Africans on a single NHI system without the investment needed will only lead to complete collapse of healthcare.
It is possible to improve the health system while reforming how it funded.
It is possible to clean up the rot and recover the R22 billion lost to corruption annually.
It is possible to choose South Africans over politics.
That is why the DA has brought solutions to the table.
We have tabled the Sizani Universal Healthcare Plan which -if implemented- would address both the question of healthcare funding and quality of care.
This plan would ensure that we afford every South African access to quality healthcare regardless of their economic status.
Unlike the NHI, we would be able to guarantee quality access because of the massive emphasis on investment to improve outcomes.
Mr President, if you truly care about the plight of millions who rely our health system – both public and private- lead your party back to the drawing board on this Bill.
Bring to the table opposition members, civil society, healthcare professionals and abona bantu basebenzisa iinkonzo zempilo to craft a plan on how we would improve healthcare; regulate the private healthcare sector to improve health outcomes and ultimately rescue an already ailing system.
As South Africa stumbles from one crisis to the next, we dare not fail their healthcare needs.
We can no longer afford your refusal and inability to make tough but necessary decisions.
Mr President, on Thursday when you respond to this debate, you will have an opportunity to choose South Africa over the factional battles at Luthuli House.
Choose to see our people – not as voting fodder – but as those who deserve better than empty slogans and stillborn plans.