NGV: Solidarity means court documents

Henry

On Friday, Solidarity served its court documents on the controversial National Health Insurance (NHI) to the government.

These court documents are the beginning of the biggest legal battle after 1994, says the organization after pres. Cyril Ramaphosa failed to repeal the law by Thursday, the relevant deadline set by Solidarity’s legal team.

Solidarity argues in the documents that the NGV is invalid because it is contrary to the Constitution.

“The NGV Act, although morally praiseworthy in its intention, simply does not pass the constitutional test,” argued Anton van der Bijl, deputy chief executive of Solidarity, in the documents.

According to Van der Bijl, it will not even successfully cross the first constitutional hurdle as the legislation does not provide for a clear financing model. The scheme created in terms of the NGV Act is also extremely vague.

The vagueness is exacerbated by the fact that the NGV fund depends on a money bill to be introduced by the finance minister. Without the approval of this bill, the operation of the entire NGV scheme is impossible.

Solidarity further argues that the state simply does not have the necessary resources to implement the law and that the proposed tax solutions are insufficient or unfeasible.

‘Technical defects’

Solidarity further argues that Ramaphosa’s mere signing of the legislation does not bring this law into force, as technical flaws strip it of its legality.

“The notice in the government Gazette does not implement the law,” explains dr. Dirk Hermann, managing director of Solidarity.

“The notification does not comply with the requirements set by the NGV Act for implementation. Any action arising from the notification will be unlawful.”

Hermann says this argument in Solidarity’s court documents could bring the implementation of the NGV to a halt.

This is because a start date for the scheme, as required by section 59 of the NHI Act, is missing. Solidarity noted this issue during its analysis of the legislation.

“These obvious technical shortcomings show how gullible the law, as it is in the government Gazette have been published, have been combined,” says Van der Bijl.

Hermann says the hasty signing of the law and the obvious technical flaws within the law only confirm many people’s suspicions that this is reckless vote solicitation. “The correct promulgation of the law still needs a lot of work. The government is not ready for that. They then sign quickly and create the impression among members of the public that the law has been put into effect.”

Solidarity further argues in the court papers that the NGV law is “unworkable, unnecessary and totally unaffordable”.

Among other things, Van der Bijl points out in the documents that the enactment of the law will disrupt the public and private health care systems, will necessitate massive reorganization of the current health care system, and will require significant structural change at considerable cost.

Research by the Solidarity Research Institute (SNI) also shows that the NGV scheme will cost around R660 billion per year, or around R300 billion if the current budget for public healthcare is deducted from it.

Solidarity says it is therefore inevitable to conclude that the state is planning to punish an already overburdened population with additional taxes using a destructive top tax, a VAT increase or a payroll tax.

“This research of ours cannot be contested because the state has failed to do a cost analysis of its own that could contradict it. Its affordability cannot therefore be proven, as well as the manner in which it will be implemented.

“The president therefore acted extremely irresponsibly and contrary to the Constitution by signing the law – even if there are now other technical factors that could nullify the signing,” says Van der Bijl.