PUB­LIC GOOD

Weekend Witness - - Opinion -

THERE’S been a pe­cu­liar fuss about why the min­is­ter of health sent his son and daugh­ter to pub­lic hos­pi­tals for treat­ment. It was re­ported re­cently that Aaron Mot­soaledi sent his son to the Steve Biko Aca­demic Hos­pi­tal to have an ear op­er­a­tion, and that he had pre­vi­ously sent his daugh­ter to the Ge­orge Mukhari Hos­pi­tal. This, claimed anony­mous com­plainants, is an ou­trage.

Could it be that cit­i­zens were concerned that an es­teemed pub­lic ser­vant was plac­ing the safety of his fam­ily at risk? It is cer­tainly rare that min­is­ters sub­ject them­selves to us­ing ser­vice providers that or­di­nary peo­ple have no choice but to use, and there are reg­u­lar re­ports of them seek­ing spe­cial treat­ment, if only to get a driver’s li­cence or to clear the high­ways with their blue lights. But no, with mind-bend­ing logic, the com­plaint seems to have been that Mot­soaledi has med­i­cal aid and should have used pri­vate hos­pi­tals. The South African Med­i­cal As­so­ci­a­tion has in­ves­ti­gated the case and found no abuse of power and has sug­gested that the min­is­ter should be com­mended for us­ing pub­lic fa­cil­i­ties.

In­deed, not only should he get a pat on the back, but it should be oblig­a­tory for all pub­lic rep­re­sen­ta­tives, from the pres­i­dent down, to use pub­lic hos­pi­tals for their fam­i­lies and send their chil­dren to pub­lic schools. This would fo­cus their minds when for­mu­lat­ing pol­icy, keep the fa­cil­i­ties on their toes, and counter the im­pres­sion that politi­cians op­er­ate to a dif­fer­ent, cushier set of rules from the masses.

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