South Africa

Solidarity threatens legal action against NHI

Solidarity issued a fresh letter of demand to the main players behind the planned National Health Insurance (NHI), recommending that their plans be halted immediately.

The letter of demand followed Solidarity’s original letter of demand, dated 5 October 2023, to which nobody responded.

The latest action comes on the eve of a National Council of Provinces (NCOP) session, at which it must vote on the National Health Insurance Bill.

In the letter of demand, Solidarity reiterates its intention to hold the role players accountable in their personal capacity should the NHI process proceed.

The players include President Cyril Ramaphosa, the finance minister, the health minister, and the National Treasury.

Solidarity CEO Dirk Hermann said they are optimistic that sanity will prevail in that the NHI scheme and Bill will eventually be defeated in its totality.

However, Hermann said history suggests the NHI Bill would be approved despite all its obvious flaws.

According to Hermann, Solidarity has done everything necessary to prepare for the inevitable court battle.

“In such a case, we will make it plain that the parties had the opportunity to enter into discussions with us before litigation to avoid a costs order in person,” he said.

“We would then also mention that the parties involved chose not to discuss the matter with us.”

Solidarity has repeatedly indicated why the NHI in its current format is unworkable, unaffordable and unnecessary.

Solidarity CEO Dirk Hermann

NHI Bill will be tied up in court for decades

Solidarity is not the only organisation preparing legal action against the planned National Health Insurance (NHI) scheme.

Many organised business groups have said they will challenge the NHI Bill in court if it is passed in its current form.

B4SA, alongside Business Unity South Africa (BUSA), wrote to the National Council of Provinces (NCOP) and the Deputy President on Monday to urge them to delay a vote on the NHI Bill.

They urged the NCOP to send the Bill back to Parliament’s Select Committee on Health and Social Welfare to properly consider the constitutional issues with the NHI Bill raised by four provinces and a range of stakeholders.

“This amounts to a serious and significant procedural lapse, and a violation and disregard of Parliament’s own public participation model, fundamentally undermining the principles of participatory democracy on which our Constitution is based,” they said.

“For the National Assembly and the NCOP to disregard proposed amendments that will have a beneficial and tangible impact on citizens in the interest of rushing the Bill through Parliament is unconstitutional.”

“They need to apply their minds carefully and cautiously. We are going to act in haste and repent at leisure if it is passed now,” Kingston told 702.

While B4SA accepts the need for universal healthcare, it believes it must be sustainably funded, provide high-quality healthcare, and be implemented properly after due process.

When asked why such an important Bill would be pushed through without due consideration, Kingston said it was being used to score political points.

“It is a fundamental pillar of the election campaign, and they want to be able to demonstrate to the population that they are delivering the NHI,” he explained.

Kingston also warned that if the Bill is pushed through in its current form, it will be tied up in the courts for decades.

“If it goes forward as it is currently being proposed, then no doubt, not only ourselves but a number of other stakeholders from civil society and the private sector will engage with that process.”

“There will be litigation, which serves nobody any useful purpose.”

Litigation will cause further damage to the country’s economy by increasing uncertainty and investor anxiety.

“As a country, at our peril, will this Bill be rushed through. For something as important as this, we are running the risk that the uncertainty it creates will stop people investing in South Africa at a time when it is critical they do,” Kingston said.


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