South Africa

Ramaphosa attacks rich taxpayers for opposing NHI

President Cyril Ramaphosa slated “well-to-do, rich people” for opposing the National Health Insurance (NHI) Bill, which many people warn infringes on South Africans’ constitutional rights.

Ramaphosa is set to sign the controversial NHI Bill into law on Wednesday. The ruling party says the Bill will transform the healthcare system and achieve universal coverage.

Parliament’s National Council of Provinces approved the Bill in December and referred it to the president for his signature.

“While our health system has had a great impact on people’s lives, we are working to improve both the quality of healthcare and equality of access,” Ramaphosa said in his 2024 SONA.

He added that the government plans to implement the NHI incrementally and will “deal with issues like health system financing”.

Many stakeholders criticised the NHI Bill, saying it is politically motivated, unaffordable, and incapable of delivering better health outcomes.

The Free Market Foundation (FMF) argues that it infringes on numerous constitutional rights, including the right of South Africans to have access to healthcare of their choice.

“President Ramaphosa is now fully committed to deceiving the country with promises that the NHI Bill will bring about better healthcare for all citizens,” the FMF said.

Solidarity said it would start with a legal process against this Bill as it is populist, irrational, and unaffordable.

“If the President signs the NHI Bill, knowing that it contains substantial flaws, he is also responsible for its consequences,” Solidarity said.

“This piece of legislation will be detrimental to all South Africans. To put the country’s health at risk for the sake of votes is extremely reckless.”

Many private healthcare providers, including Discovery and Momentum, oppose the NHI Bill in its current form.

Discovery CEO Adrian Gore said the NHI Bill is flawed, does not have the necessary funding, and will face numerous challenges.

Damian McHugh, Momentum’s chief marketing officer, said the implementation of the NHI Bill in its current format is not sustainable.

“We expect the already documented challenges made by numerous stakeholders to become more vocal, particularly around the constitutionality of the Bill,” he said.

Ramaphosa slates NHI critics

Panyaza Lesufi
Gauteng Premier Panyaza Lesufi

Ramaphosa dismissed criticism against the NHI Bill as fearmongering from “well-to-do, rich people”.

“The opposition to NHI is coming from well-to-do, rich people. It is coming from those who have the ability,” he told delegates at the ANC Progressive Business Forum.

“This is what often happens. The haves don’t want the have-nots to benefit from what they have been having.”

“We are saying, through NHI, all of our people must have equality. There must be equality for all in our country.”

He said the drive for equality strikes fear into the hearts of many people. He likened it to democracy, which he said “drove fear into the hearts of white people in this country”.

“They were terrified. They were so afraid. When everyone gets a vote, it means the privileges that they always had are now going to disappear,” he said.

Ramaphosa added, “We cannot go on with the new South Africa when we still have inequality in some areas of life.”

“Healthcare, which is the most important area of life for anyone, is one area where we need equality. Believe me, we will have equality, whether people like it or not,” he said.

Gauteng Premier Panyaza Lesufi went one step further, promising poor South Africans they would be able to visit any private hospital after the elections and get free healthcare.

“After 29 May, if the ANC wins the election, you can go to any hospital of your choice, whether it is a private hospital, public hospital, or private clinic,” he said.

“You can go to a private hospital and get the best experts to treat you. After you have been treated, the government will pay the bill free of charge,” he said.

“That is why we are telling our people to go and vote for the ANC. Gone are the days when, if you don’t have medical aid, you must die.”

“After 29 May, that is the end. We will have one medical aid for everyone, whether you are working or not.


Top JSE indices