SA has been doing the Cyril Ramaphosa doggy-paddle for two years. But it’s no longer keeping head above water. It has moved from floundering to drowning.
The danger with drowning persons is that, in their panic, they pull their rescuer down with them when they go under. The ANC, in its flailing to preserve itself, threatens to pull the whole nation down with it.
There’s electricity. The mines and large industries stand ready to generate at least backup power for when the grid is down, but the ANC can’t bring itself to give the go-ahead, since its union and Communist allies believe this will encourage privatisation by stealth.
Then there’s sport. The government has just tabled an Amendment Bill that will see all sporting bodies, including your neighbourhood running club, brought under the control of the sports minister.
Sport, already dysfunctional and rotten with corruption, will be run from the top down, with the minister deploying his chosen men and women. It will destroy the structure of sport administration and is, quite likely, illegal in terms of international regulations that forbid political interference in sport.
But sport is frippery compared with the critical matter of health provision.
This week, Health Minister Zweli Mkhize bemoaned the “fear-mongering” critics of the National Health Insurance (NHI) system that is being bustled with indecent haste through the legislative process. The predictably bombastic Blade Nzimande, general-secretary of the SA Communist Party and higher education minister, says the party wanted the NHI to be implemented this year: “The alliance must unite to advance and defend the interests of our people and defeat all those forces opposed to the NHI.”
Rather than “fear-mongering” most of the criticism has been evenhanded. Overwhelmingly, the reservations expressed have been around the likelihood of the government being able to administer the enormous bureaucracy that the NHI entails – an issue that has made unlikely allies of official opposition Democratic Alliance and the activist organisation, Section27.
There are two sets of evidence to base one’s assessment on. At a macro-level, one can look at how effectively the ANC administration has performed historically, and at a micro-level, how well the public system is now being administered.
One should look at government attempts to prove its ability to administer an NHI. More than R1 billion was spent on 10 NHI pilot projects, after which the outside assessors, trying hard to be charitable, concluded that “none was an outright failure”.
But we shouldn’t worry, says Mkhize. The NHI “will be run with the same efficiency and integrity” as the Road Accident Fund (RAF) and the National Student Financial Aid Scheme (Nsfas). These have “set a precedent of good governance and accountability”.
Let’s get real. If this is what Mkhize thinks are confidence-inspiring good examples, God help us.
The RAF owes injured motorists around R17 billion. The Nsfas is also technically bankrupt with more than 52 000 graduates owing R967m in unpaid bursaries in 2018.
Lifeguards are taught how to break a drowning person’s death grip and break free. Sadly, ordinary South Africans lack that option.
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