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DA files Public Service Commission complaint against NHI

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DA files Public Service Commission complaint against NHI

DA files Public Service Commission complaint against NHI

20th May 2024

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/ MEDIA STATEMENT / The content on this page is not written by Polity.org.za, but is supplied by third parties. This content does not constitute news reporting by Polity.org.za.

The Democratic Alliance (DA) has lodged a complaint against the National Health Insurance (NHI) scheme with the Public Service Commission for urgent investigation. This comes after President Cyril Ramaphosa signed the fatally-flawed NHI into law last week in a desperate election stunt, as the ANC marches towards defeat at the polling booth on 29 May.

Our complaint also comes after the DA was contacted by panicked public servants who are 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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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 are members of GEMS, will only serve to further fuel the ANC corruption and mismanagement that is the real cause limiting access to quality public healthcare for millions of poor citizens.

The DA’s complaint to the PSC is lodged in terms of the Commission’s mandate, as outlined in section 196 (4)(a-c) of 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,” as well as “to promote the values and principles set out in section 195, throughout the public service.” The applicable values and principles outlined in section 195 include that the “efficient, economic and effective use of resources must be promoted and that “good human-resource management and career development practices, to maximise human potential, must be cultivated.”

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The NHI scheme violates 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.

Section 33 of the NHI Act, which abolishes private medical scheme cover, including GEMS, has already damaged public administration and labour relations within the sector. The administrators of GEMS are themselves deeply concerned about the impact of NHI upon its members, to the extent that they felt compelled to release urgent communication to its members on 17 May 2024. The first sentence of the communique pleads with public servants: “Please do not cancel your medical aid.”

It is easy to foresee how this reckless act by the President has 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.

The foreseeable breakdown in labour relations, and possible widespread labour unrest, that will follow the President’s signing of the NHI into law will cripple the ability of the public sector to deliver critical services to the people of South Africa. Under the weight of decades of cadre deployment, mismanagement and corruption, service delivery is already teetering on the brink of collapse.

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.

As the custodian of the public service, it is incumbent upon the PSC to take urgent steps to avert possible labour unrest and the outright collapse of the public sector. The Commission must, as a matter of priority, investigate and propose measures to the government – including the possible repeal or revision of the NHI Act – to ensure effective and efficient performance within the public service.

 

Issued by Dr Leon Schreiber MP - DA Shadow Minister for Public Service and Administration

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