The DA has questioned the motive behind North West premier Bushy Maape’s decision to seek medical treatment in Thailand.
The matter has placed South Africa’s health system under scrutiny.
The provincial government announced on Monday that the premier is set to be out of the country from January 21 to January 31 2024.
This was on his doctor’s advice and referral for further medical treatment.
Meanwhile, MEC for cooperative governance, human settlements, and traditional affairs Patrick Dumile Nono Maloyi is acting in his capacity.
Opposition expresses concern
The DA caucus leader in the North West provincial legislature, Freddy Sonakile, has expressed concern over premier Maape’s decision.
He argues that it is indicative of a lack of confidence in the local public health system.
“While we wish Premier Maape a speedy recovery and good health, it is concerning that he would seek medical treatment abroad instead of accessing medical facilities in the province,” Sonakile said.
He said the DA has consistently highlighted issues such as chronic medicine shortages, equipment deficiencies, and understaffing in public hospitals across the province.
His criticism extends beyond the premier’s case. He said the opposition perceives this as a broader trend among ANC politicians in office.
Pattern by ruling party officials
According to the party, seeking medical treatment abroad has become an established pattern for ANC officials.
“We have long indicated that public hospitals in the province are in a bad state. They are suffering chronic medicine, equipment, and staff shortages.
“The fact that Premier Maape would rather seek treatment abroad indicates his vote of no confidence in the provincial public health system he presides over.
“It has now become an established trend for ANC politicians in office to seek medical treatment abroad.
“This is while tens of millions of South Africans are unable to access quality public healthcare.”
Sonakile argued that millions of South Africans struggle to access quality public healthcare. He said this is in contrast with the seemingly privileged position of ANC politicians. They opt for medical treatment abroad.
Casts doubt on the NHI scheme
He claims that this raises questions about the effectiveness of the ANC’s promises to deliver quality public healthcare to all citizens.
“This is but a preview of the disaster that will unfold should the ANC continue to push for the implementation of the National Health Insurance scheme.
“It will only increase inequality in accessing medical treatment for everyone,” warned Sonakile.
“Millions of South Africans struggle to access quality medical treatment in ANC-managed public hospitals.
“They do not have the means to jump on a taxpayer-funded medical tourism jaunt to [foreign] locations. This is unlike premier Maape.
“The ANC in government says that it delivers quality public healthcare to all. But the reality is, it does not. Premier Maape knows it, which is why he will be in Thailand.
“This while many patients in public facilities struggle to receive the treatment they deserve.”