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.