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By Marizka Coetzer


Cyril signing contentious Bill ‘cynical, destructive’ – DA and Afriforum

Steenhuisen criticises Ramaphosa's NHI move as desperate, while AfriForum vows to oppose it legally, citing unconstitutionality.

Democratic Alliance (DA) leader John Steenhuisen said the party had been inundated with queries from panicked citizens within hours of President Cyril Ramaphosa making his intention to sign the National Health Insurance (NHI) Bill today clear.

“Some of them asked if this meant their sick relatives would continue to receive the critical care keeping them alive; whether their medical aids had now expired; and how they were supposed to afford the astronomical tax increases that Ramaphosa plans to impose,” he said.

ALSO READ: Disappointment, concern and court after Ramaphosa decides to sign NHI Bill

Steenhuisen said it was obvious why the president had decided to sign the Bill.

“He has made this move out of sheer political desperation,” he said. “After months of ignoring the ongoing implosion of ANC support, the party has finally realised that its 50% majority will become a thing of the past at the election.

“Out of desperation, it cast around for any populist lever it could pull in the hopes of magically boosting its terminal fortunes,” Steenhuisen said.

“Unfortunately, Ramaphosa chose the NHI as the ANC’s last stand before it finally loses power in about two weeks.

“It is difficult to think of a more cynical and destructive move.

“It is a dishonour to the Office of President that Ramaphosa could sink this low.

“What he is doing is to play with the lives of the South African people for imaginary political gain,” Steenhuisen said.

Civil rights organisation AfriForum has also strongly condemned the decision to push through the NHI Bill.

It is convinced the Bill is unconstitutional and unenforceable. The organisation is ready to oppose the implementation of the NHI Bill in the highest court, and said it would sign a resolution on the same day that the Bill was signed to validate that sentiment.

AfriForum’s campaign officer, Louis Boshoff, said AfriForum intended to stop the implementation of the NHI Bill, “not simply by bringing an application against the implementation of the Bill, but by suing the government for the unimaginable damage that NHI can cause to South Africans’ well-being”.

ALSO READ: ‘People are going to die’ − Maimane fires NHI Bill warning

Political analyst Khanya Vilakazi said the NHI was supposed to put a bandage on a failing public health-care sector by accommodating every single South African and any health facility in the country and the government should foot that bill.

“My biggest concern is that the Bill is an admission that the government has failed to maintain the public health sector and is willing to pay the private sector because of its inability to accommodate normal South Africans on a day-to-day basis,” Vilakazi said.

Political analyst Piet Croucamp said there had been a lack of consultation but that the ANC had decided there were some primary issues they could pursue as part of the election campaign, and NHI was one of those.

“You can’t blame the president. You must actually blame the executive committee of the ANC and Luthuli House.

“In that respect, the president is actually disempowered. He is just following through on party policy,” he said. Croucamp said it was still a long and hard battle ahead.