Mot­soaledi play­ing to the gallery

CityPress - - Voices -

Tebogo Se­wapa Stel­len­bosch In crit­i­cis­ing the Free Mar­ket Foun­da­tion’s pro­posed al­ter­na­tive to the un­work­able and un­af­ford­able pro­posed Na­tional Health In­sur­ance scheme, Min­is­ter of Health Aaron Mot­soaledi ac­cuses the foun­da­tion of “[seek­ing to cre­ate] a new kind of apartheid, where the rich do not mix with the poor”.

I sug­gest that Mot­soaledi check on the foun­da­tion’s two decades of op­po­si­tion to apartheid and four-decades-long his­tory of fight­ing for the rights of small traders, street traders, the un­em­ployed, con­sumers and, par­tic­u­larly, the poor and marginalised.

I have re­searched some of the pol­icy is­sues that are now the of­fi­cial stance of the foun­da­tion, and can state au­thor­i­ta­tively that this or­gan­i­sa­tion is con­cerned only with in­creas­ing ac­cess to qual­ity health­care for the poor. How the rich choose to spend their money is of no con­cern.

The aim is to ex­tend to the poor the qual­ity health­care that is al­ready avail­able for the rich. The only fea­si­ble, ef­fi­cient and af­ford­able way to achieve this out­come is for govern­ment to use scarce tax­payer re­sources in the same way as it does for other con­sti­tu­tion­ally man­dated ob­jec­tives, such as hous­ing and ed­u­ca­tion, where the state cares for the poor and leaves the vol­un­tary pri­vate mar­ket alone.

Ad­vanced, de­vel­oped coun­tries, such as Canada and Bri­tain, which have per capita in­comes more than three times greater than South Africa’s, are strug­gling to meet health­care de­mands un­der their “free health­care for all” sys­tems.

It is un­rea­son­able to as­sume that a poor, de­vel­op­ing coun­try such as South Africa can af­ford to do so.

The ev­i­dence is clear to see. There is no need to play to the gallery. The min­is­ter must fo­cus on the dis­mal state of public hos­pi­tals be­fore he messes with the pri­vate health­care providers and mil­lions of tax­pay­ers.

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