SABC News: NEHAWU Policy Development Head cde Sidney Kgara Clarifying the NHI

15 May 2024 - NEHAWU Supports The NHI Bill

Wednesday May 15, 2024

The National Education, Health and Allied Workers’ Union [NEHAWU] commends the President of the Republic, Comrade Cyril Ramaphosa, for the much anticipated and long-awaited signing of the National Health Insurance (NHI) Bill into law.

This is indeed a watershed moment that must be celebrated by all those who uphold the principles, values and injunctions of the country’s Constitution. It signifies a progressive step towards government fulfilling the Constitutional obligation, more particularly, Section 27, Subsection 1, which enjoins government to ensure that everyone has access to healthcare.

The signing of the Bill into law will also set in place legislative provisions that will ultimately dismantle the highly unequal two-tiered health system. The NHI Bill is a result of over twenty-years of dedicated struggle, NEHAWU salutes all the workers, academics, doctors and progressive organisations that made many sacrifices towards the development, adoption and now ascension of the Bill. The NHI Bill went through extensive scrutiny and debate, in NEDLAC, in the Portfolio Committee on Health, two Presidential Health Summits and through public participation processes in all nine provinces through the National Assembly and National Council of Provinces.

The current conditions facing workers’ and the poor necessitate a properly resourced healthcare system. More than half of the country’s health spending takes place in the private healthcare system, which only services 16% of the population and only 9% of the African population are members of the medical aid schemes. NHI therefore seeks to transform the healthcare spending patterns in order to address the healthcare needs of 84% of the population. It seeks to provide quality healthcare to all South Africans, regardless of their class or race and it also seeks to overhaul the persisting systematic inequalities resulting from the two-tiered system in realising Universal Health Coverage (UHC).

In pursuit of the ultimate goal of the UHC through the establishment of the NHI Fund, which shall be the sole entity to purchase medicine and equipment as well as to reimburse the healthcare providers, this NHI legislation would enable the achievement of the following:

  • Access to healthcare for rural communities.
  • Better and improved medical equipment in healthcare institutions.
  • Dismantling the two-tier health system.
  • Access to medical specialist and dentists for all.
  • Reduction of the cost of private healthcare.
  • Adequate staffing of healthcare institutions to shorten waiting time and increase the quality of healthcare provided.

Whilst NEHAWU is proud to have contributed to the enactment of this legislation, we remain vigilant and are fully aware of the expected litigations by those seeking to maintain the two-tiered health system, which is a relic of the Apartheid system. The opponents of the UHC have become more brazen in recent days, the likes of Afriforum, Business Unity South Africa (BUSA), the Democratic Alliance and other anti-working class elements as they have even threatened the President with legal action should he sign NHI Bill into law. The irony is that some of these elements were active participants during the NEDLAC engagement processes, they were present at both Presidential Health Summits and had ample opportunity to follow the due protocol on engaging the Bill. The fact that they are now threatening the President with legal action is a reflection of them negotiating in bad faith and in undermining the social compact that they have committed to form part of.

Going forward, NEHAWU will endeavour to popularise the context and content of NHI amongst workers and communities, we will elevate the importance of Human Resources for Health 2030 as a key mechanism to bolster investment in our health workforce and we will be relentless in mobilising workers and communities in our call to end National Treasury’s fixation with neoliberal fiscal consolidation. The NHI will not succeed in providing millions of South African’s with quality healthcare services if austerity remains. Therefore, NEHAWU demands that the President and National Treasury put their full political weight behind a properly resourced NHI.


Issued by NEHAWU Secretariat
Zola Saphetha (General Secretary) at 082 558 5968;
December Mavuso (Deputy General Secretary) at 082 558 5969;
Khaya Xaba (NEHAWU Media Liaison Officer) at 082 455 2500
or email: Visit NEHAWU website:

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  • 07 October 2019: NEHAWU Statement on the NHI bill Read More
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