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DA wants Public Service Commission to urgently investigate NHI scheme

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DA wants Public Service Commission to urgently investigate NHI scheme

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20th May 2024

By: Thabi Shomolekae
Creamer Media Senior Writer

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The Democratic Alliance (DA) on Monday lodged a complaint against the National Health Insurance (NHI) scheme with the Public Service Commission (PSC) for urgent investigation.

This after President Cyril Ramaphosa signed the “fatally-flawed” NHI Bill into law last week in what the DA calls a “desperate election stunt”, ahead of the May 29 elections.

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DA Shadow Minister for Public Service and Administration Dr Leon Schreiber called on the PSC to investigate and propose measures to the government, including the possible repeal or revision of the NHI Act.

Schreiber said that the complaint also followed after the party was contacted by “panicked” public servants who were members of the Government Employees Medical Scheme (GEMS) – the largest medical aid scheme in South Africa, with over 2.8-million principal members and beneficiaries.

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He stated that using NHI to “expropriate” medical aid contributions without compensation and to “extort even higher taxes” from all South Africans, including from the millions of public servants who were members of GEMS, would only serve to further fuel the ANC “corruption and mismanagement”, which the DA said was the real cause limiting access to quality public healthcare for millions of poor citizens.

Schreiber noted that the NHI scheme violated the constitutional principles governing public administration.

“It results in the inefficient, uneconomic and ineffective use of resources. It undermines good human-resource management and career development practices. As a result, the NHI poses an existential threat to the health and wellbeing of public servants, the capacity of the public service to deliver on its mandate, as well as to labour relations within the sector,” said Schreiber.

He highlighted that Section 33 of the NHI Act, which abolished private medical scheme cover, including GEMS, had already damaged public administration and labour relations within the sector.

He added that the administrators of GEMS were themselves “deeply concerned” about the impact of NHI on its members, to the extent that they felt compelled to release urgent communication to its members on May 17.

Schreiber said the DA’s complaint to the PSC was lodged in terms of the PSC’s mandate, as outlined in the Constitution “to investigate, monitor and evaluate the organisation and administration, and the personnel practices, of the public service”, to “propose measures to ensure effective and efficient performance within the public service”.

He said “this reckless” act by the President had sown the seeds of labour unrest and a complete breakdown in “good human-resource management and career-development practices” in the public sector.

“Like millions of South Africans who see the NHI for what it is – a cheap political ploy that will do nothing to address the dire state of public healthcare in all provinces except the Western Cape, while creating a centralised R200-billion fund vulnerable to corruption under the direct control of the Minister of Health – public servants will not accept the NHI’s infringement upon their constitutional rights,” he said.

Schrieber added that the foreseeable breakdown in labour relations, and possible widespread labour unrest, that would follow the President’s signing of the NHI into law would cripple the ability of the public sector to deliver critical services to South Africans.

Under the weight of decades of cadre deployment, mismanagement and corruption, service delivery is already teetering on the brink of collapse, said Schreiber.

“The breakdown in relations between workers and the employer precipitated by the expropriation without compensation of public servants’ GEMS contributions, coupled with unbearable tax increases, will push the situation beyond breaking point,” he said.

He said as the custodian of the public service, it was incumbent upon the PSC to take urgent steps to avert possible labour unrest and the outright collapse of the public sector.

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