Fierce debate rages as Ramaphosa prepares to put NHI pen to paper

Fierce debate rages as Ramaphosa prepares to put NHI pen to paper

The Union Buildings and President Cyril Ramaphosa’s signature will be the talk of the town on Wednesday. 

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The president is expected to finally sign the controversial National Health Insurance Bill into law on Wednesday afternoon. 


The bill seeks to achieve universal health care for all South Africans. 


Several organisations and political parties have vowed to challenge the bill in court, while others have expressed support for it in its current form. 


The South African Communist Party will picket outside the Union Buildings to support Ramaphosa’s signing of the bill into law.


"In our country, quality health care is an exclusive preserve of a minority who are opposed to the NHI. They want to be the only ones who have access to quality healthcare. The president will bring this to an end," said the party's spokesperson Alex Mashilo. 


"So we are going to the Union Buildings to express our support for the president and our support for the actions taken by the National Assembly, which allows the bill into law after years of extensive consultation". 


Nursing union Denosa believes the NHI will rid the country of healthcare inequality. 


"We have been consistent in our support for the NHI for various reasons. The concept of equal access to universal health coverage will finally be realised in the country, whereby everyone has equal access to healthcare on the basis of their healthcare needs and not on the basis of how deep one's pocket is," said Denosa's spokesperson Sibongiseni Delihlazo. 


At the same time, the Democratic Alliance has vowed to challenge the NHI Bill at the Constitutional Court.. 


"Out of desperation, it (the ANC) cast around for any populist lever it could pull in the hopes of magically boosting its terminal fortunes," said DA's leader John Steenhuisen on Tuesday.


"Unfortunately for the people of South Africa, Ramaphosa chose the NHI as the ANC's last stand before it finally loses power in less than three weeks.”


The Hospital Association of South Africa also expressed disappointment, citing the government’s lack of collaboration and consultation.


"In moving to sign the bill, the president and the cabinet have regrettably disregarded our views and our best advice. We sincerely believe the unfortunate consequence is that this version will hamper, rather than promote, access to quality healthcare for citizens in our country," said the association’s Mike Peach.


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