/ 27 May 2024

Steenhuisen: NHI bill a populist stunt before the elections

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John Steenhuisen, image by Delwyn Verasamy

Democratic Alliance (DA) leader John Steenhuisen made an impassioned plea to thousands of supporters on Sunday not to be fooled by what he called the ANC’s National Health Insurance (NHI) electioneering ploy to get more votes on Wednesday.

Addressing scores of supporters at Willowmore Stadium in Benoni on Sunday, Steenhuisen said the approval of the NHI bill during the election season was an assault on the aspirations of the South African people by the ANC, which is playing political games with the lives and health of citizens.

“This scheme will not solve the ANC corruption and mismanagement that has destroyed public healthcare. Instead, it will expropriate medical aid from the millions of South Africans who — despite the misrule of the ANC — have worked hard to make it into the middle class since 1994,” he said.

The NHI bill’s objective is to provide universal, quality healthcare for all South Africans.

The DA, which won the second-largest share of the vote in the 2019 elections, urged supporters to use their pens on election day to close the ANC chapter, which it said was riddled with “unemployment, corruption and misrule”.

“We are asking you to make a clear choice for unity and progress and to reject the social and political forces that are working hard to undermine the gains of freedom made over the last three decades,” Steenhuisen said.

The DA leader said if voters continue to vote for the ANC, the Economic Freedom Fighters or the Patriotic Alliance then the NHI will be implemented, property will be expropriated without compensation, corruption will engulf us, and the economy will collapse.

He added that the DA would improve community safety, as it has done in Cape Town through initiatives such as the R1.2 billion LEAP programme, which he said had removed 27 000 criminals from the streets.

“Today, DA governments already run the best public schools, hospitals and clinics you will find anywhere in this country, DA governments are busy enhancing the dignity of our poorest citizens by delivering excellent public education and healthcare, while DA-led Cape Town is investing more in poor communities than ANC-led Johannesburg and eThekwini combined,” he said.

Steenhuisen said the DA had united with “like-minded” parties to form the Multi-Party Charter. “Together, we can get to the 50%-plus-one we need to rescue South Africa,” he said.

Steenhuisen kicked off his second term as DA leader in April last year with a commitment to dislodge the ANC from power through the moonshot pact with the Inkatha Freedom Party and other parties. 

The project has gained traction and the support of eight smaller parties, but recent polls show it may still fail to secure a majority in the face of the ANC’s clawing back public support going into the elections.

A new survey released this month by the think tank Social Research Foundation found that the ANC would receive numbers in the range of 45%, the DA 23% and the IFP 5%, which would mean the ruling party would not be unseated and a coalition for all the parties would be needed.

The DA and the IFP are understood to have been quietly talking to the ANC — some of whose leaders are also speaking of the possibility of a national dialogue or a government of national unity — while remaining publicly committed to the moonshot pact

Steenhuisen said the Multi-Party Charter would rid the country of graft by leading departments with zero tolerance for corruption.