Battle over NHI appointments kicks off in court

Solidarity chief executive Dr Dirk Hermann. Picture: Jacques Naude/African News Agency(ANA)

Solidarity chief executive Dr Dirk Hermann. Picture: Jacques Naude/African News Agency(ANA)

Published Feb 7, 2024


While all that is left for the National Health Insurance (NHI) to come to fruition is for President Cyril Ramaphosa’s golden signature, trade union Solidarity is hellbent on stopping the implementation of the national insurance in its entirety through a rigorous court battle.

Solidarity, through a series of court cases kicking off this week, will be approaching the high court to review a decision by the Department of Health to advertise and fill senior posts in the NHI even before the system has been approved by Parliament.

The union said should the courts decide in its favour during the first court appearance on today, this would serve as a setback for the government’s “ill-conceived” NHI plans.

Anton van der Bijl, Solidarity’s deputy chief executive for legal matters, said the reason the union was challenging the appointments -- allegedly advertised in August 2022 -- was due to the fact that such appointments were illegal.

“By having done this, the government has shown just how much it wants to steamroll ahead with the NHI without heeding its consequences or people’s strong opposition to it.

“Even President Cyril Ramaphosa has already said that the NHI will happen, whether ‘we like it or not’.

“This must be challenged because the fact of the matter is that there are legal processes in place that must be followed; jobs cannot be advertised for a scheme that does not exist yet, and may, legally, not exist,” Van der Bijl said.

Solidarity chief executive, Dr Dirk Hermann, said the union would also challenge the constitutionality of the certificate of need by which medical practitioners will be told where they may practise in terms of the NHI.

“This is yet another major step in the battle and we already have a court date for it.

“Eventually, we are going to challenge the NHI Act in its entirety in court.

“The court papers for this case are ready and as soon as President Ramaphosa signs it into law we will be heading to court in what we call ‘the mother of all court cases’. That is how dangerous we believe these NHI plans to be.”

Hermann added: “The president has already been put on terms, and should he proceed to implement the NHI we will be able to hold him liable in person.”

This is not the first time that the NHI implementation and the bill itself have faced staunch criticism from civil society and opposition parties.

The DA also said the NHI Bill, as it stood, would not provide universal healthcare to the people of South Africa, but would instead only nationalise healthcare. This would bring the same corruption and complete mismanagements witnesses in numerous entities including Eskom, SAA, local government, and just about everything else the ANC touches.

The NHI would effectively ban private medical aid, the DA said, forcing all South Africans to use government healthcare, raising personal taxes exorbitantly and lead to the collapse of the economy.

The Star

[email protected]