Threats of legal action after Ramaphosa signs NHI into law

Civil society organisations and political parties are threatening legal action following Wednesday’s controversial signing of the National Health Insurance Bill. President Cyril Ramaphosa, who publicly signed the Bill into law amid significant criticism, said the NHI was an opportunity to “break with the prevailing inequality” in South Africa’s health system. He also called on stakeholders to work with government to ensure the NHI operates successfully. The Organisation Undoing Tax Abuse wants Ramaphosa to “return to the drawing board” and work with various industry experts to design a “workable” universal health care model. Outa said while it fully supported the constitutional right of all South Africans to proper healthcare, it warned that government was creating “false hope” by signing the NHI Bill into law just two weeks before the National Elections and questioned whether it was an election ploy. Meanwhile, official opposition Democratic Alliance Chief Whip Siviwe Gwarube said that the proposed NHI scheme, touted as the panacea for the country’s healthcare woes, was nothing more than a “political tool” wielded by the African National Congress to “manipulate” voters in the upcoming election. AfriForum is also preparing for a class action lawsuit against the government, Ramaphosa, Parliament and Minister of Health Joe Phaahla, for “the damage that South Africans will suffer under the unaffordable NHI policy”. Non-profit organisation Sakeliga said it opposed the implementation of the NHI, calling it an “unacceptable and irresponsible” legislative proposal. GOOD secretary-general and MP Brett Herron said his party supported the signing of the NHI Bill, describing it as a tool to address inequality and improve health care services for the majority. However, he said that it was “regrettable” that the Bill was being signed now, days before an election.

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