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Maimane: DA will fight the 'unconstitutional' NHI Bill

The bill, which sets out to provide universal healthcare to all South Africans regardless of their financial circumstances, will now be processed by Parliament before it becomes law.

Democratic Alliance leader Mmusi Maimane at the Sona Debate on 25 June 2019. Picture: @ParliamentofRSA/Twitter.

CAPE TOWN - The Democratic Alliance (DA) on Tuesday questioned the constitutionality of the National Health Insurance (NHI) Bill which was before Parliament.

This followed last week’s release of the NHI Bill by Health Minister Zweli Mkhize.

The bill, which sets out to provide universal healthcare to all South Africans regardless of their financial circumstances, will now be processed by Parliament before it becomes law.

The battle for universal healthcare will continue in Parliament as the DA vowed to fight the NHI bill when it's presented to the health portfolio committee.

The party said the bill, as it stood, would be a greater burden for South Africans and would not be for the benefit of the poor.

Questioning its constitutionality, DA leader Mmusi Maimane said the bill would limit the rights of citizens to make a choice on medical aid.

“It is on that basis that I and the party will be taking every measure possible oppose this bill."

DA health spokesperson Siviwe Gwarube said the party would exhaust all avenues before it took a decision on whether to legally challenge the Bill.

“…And so a part of that process is to say Parliament needs to provide the assurance that legal services have in fact certified this bill as passing as constitutional.”

'NHI WILL NOT BRING UNIVERSAL HEALTHCARE'

The DA said the NHI Bill would not bring about universal healthcare, but instead cripple the private healthcare sector and collapse the economy.

The party joined organisations like the South African Private Practitioners’ Forum which said the current NHI model would cause irreparable harm to the country’s entire healthcare industry.

The party said the NHI was to the health sector what former President Jacob Zuma’s nuclear deal would have been to the energy sector.

Maimane said: “We don’t believe formulating another state-owned enterprise or another state-owned health is certainly the way to go.”

He said after careful consideration of the bill, the party was not satisfied that it would pass constitutional muster and would, therefore, be requesting Parliament to seek a comprehensive legal opinion.

“We believe that this bill may very well be unconstitutional. It is on this basis that we have already written to the Speaker of Parliament Thandi Modise.”