Foreigners & HealthCare Delivery In South Africa


Foreigners, and their access to public services
in South Africa, look set to be key election issues in the run-up to the polls on 08 May
2019. However, politicians have been warned not
to inflame xenophobia in the country. The Gauteng Premier, David Makhura, threatened
to force Southern African countries to pay for their citizens’ access to health services,
as the burden on the resources of the country’s economic hub threatens to spiral out of control. In his state of the province address, Makhura
revealed that, the public health system of Gauteng serves 20 million healthcare users
every year, compared to 7 million in 1994. The province now has a population of 14.7
million, according to the mid-year estimates from Statistics South Africa. Makhura admitted, that the public healthcare
system of the province faces tremendous pressures and challenges, due to mismanagement and corrupt
practices of concern officials. The Finance MEC of Gauteng Province, Barbara
Creecy, also acknowledged that the Gauteng government has been forced to increase its
budget by billions of rand, due to millions of people flocking to the province, stretching
services, such as healthcare and education. However, Makhura promised that the financial,
and structural challenges were receiving the utmost attention of his executive, and President
Cyril Ramaphosa’s Cabinet. Makhura’s main challenger, former Tshwane
mayor, Solly Msimanga, has also threatened to force South Africa’s neighbours to pay
for the public services its citizens receive from his administration. “The Democratic Alliance will seek to recover
hospital and school costs from foreign embassies, and will push for deductions from the Southern
African Customs Union, which covers Botswana, Lesotho, Namibia, South Africa and eSwatini,”
according to the Democratic Alliance’s Gauteng election manifesto, which Msimanga launched. Should the Democratic Alliance emerge victorious
in the May polls, Msimanga wants the South African National Defence Force to deploy 22
companies to guard the country’s borders, up from 15 companies, which he believes is
inadequate. According to the Democratic Alliance, immigration
laws must be firmly enforced to ensure that criminals are deported, and all immigrants
are properly documented. The population of Gauteng has more than doubled
since 1994, to 14.7 million, with annual in-migration of 300,000 people, according to the Democratic
Alliance manifesto. The party blames the ANC for failing to stem
the tide of undocumented immigrants, who have put enormous pressure on Gauteng hospitals
and schools, and it wants to push for the Department of Home Affairs to do its job in
documenting immigrants, and preventing illegal immigration. In its election manifesto, the ANC has also
promised to strengthen border controls to improve security, and manage immigration effectively. The director of Consortium for Refugees and
Migrants in South Africa, Thifulufheli Sinthumule, told Independent Media, that David Makhura
and the Democratic Alliance’s statements were “purely discriminatory and xenophobic
utterances”. Sinthumule said, Makhura was electioneering,
using xenophobic statements due to the ANC’s fear of losing power in Gauteng to a coalition
of opposition parties, like it did in the 2016 local government elections, when it lost
Johannesburg and Tshwane. He said the xenophobic statements violated
the constitution’s provision, that everyone has a right to access basic healthcare, and
the National Health Act. “How can a refugee, fleeing his or her own
country for political reasons, ask the same country to pay for their health services?” Sinthumule described the threats against foreign
nationals as “national discrimination and institutionalised discrimination”. He accused David Makhura, and the Democratic
Alliance of putting foreign nationals’ lives at risk. The mayor of Johannesburg City, Herman Mashaba,
has previously claimed that, one of the reasons for the city’s failure to provide services,
was the influx of foreign nationals, but Sinthumule dismissed this, saying no research supports
these statements. “These are just unresearched and unverified
reasons, for xenophobia and discrimination,” said Sinthumule. The Consortium for Refugees and Migrants in
South Africa, has also lodged a complaint with the Electoral Commission of South Africa,
against a new KwaZulu-Natal based political party, the African Basic Movement, which has
promised to force foreign nationals to leave South Africa, should it win the upcoming elections. Mary-Ann Lindelwa Dunjwa, the chairperson
of the National Assembly’s Portfolio Committee on Health, said foreign nationals have the
right to access public health-care services anywhere in the country. She said foreign nationals’, being denied
access to health services, has not come to the committee’s attention. She added, that the committee has never demanded
that neighbouring countries must pay for their citizens’ access to healthcare services
in South Africa. Please check in the description box below,
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Daniel Yohans

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