Six thousand caregivers in the Eastern Cape were informed that they will again not be paid at the end of May 2012. This is the second month without payment due to supposed lack of funds. The Eastern Cape government has said it will ask national government for extra money as they have ‘run out of funds’.
Without the caregivers who are in clinics and hospitals around the province, who work as HIV counsellors and home-based carers, in the main centres and in the rural areas, the entire health care system would collapse, yet the state has said they have run out of funds to pay the R1500 per month ‘stipend’ for this essential service to the community. How did this happen and what does it mean for the National Health Insurance (NHI) that the ANC, SACP and Cosatu leaders hold up as a great benefit to the working class? Nehawu is actively campaigning for the NHI.
Every budget since 1994 has fundamentally continued the trend of the old regime, namely that state expenses support the capitalist system and thus the continued exploitation of the masses by big capital. As the crisis of world capitalism has deepened, the state has adjusted its plans to bail out the capitalists and to take more and more from the masses. Across the world, capitalist regimes have been cutting down on public health expenditure. South Africa is no exception.
One of the ways of collapsing the public health is by not filling all the vacant posts. Thus by the end of the financial year, when there is unexpended funds (money left over), it is deducted from the next budget. In this way, there are more funds to divert towards the big capitalists through fake infrastructure projects and through cuts in taxes for the bosses. The old regime charged the bosses a tax of 48% but now they only charge the capitalists 28% tax on their profits. Thus the burden of public expenses is shifted more onto the backs of the working class.
When the need arose to service communities, the state now employs casualised workers, such as the care-givers, through special funding. But the funding for the permanent posts was there, but it has been deliberately cut. So now the Eastern Cape can parade the false argument that they have no funds. Where has the money gone to that is supposed to be for the wages of the caregivers? It has gone to the fake infrastructure projects, the building of ten more coal and nuclear power stations while industry has collapsed and less electricity is being used. The health workers’ wages have gone to Anglo American, the JP Morgan Chase bank- their profits are more important than the wages of the caregivers, says the government. Let the health care collapse, says the regime, as long as their real bosses, Anglo American, get their money.
If the government cannot even reinstate all the necessary permanent posts in the health sector, this means that the planned NHI will be based on a collapse of the public health sector. This means that workers will have to suffer an extra 10% tax to fund being able to go to private clinics and hospitals. In other words the state is creating and propping up a fake industry, called the private health sector. Who controls the private health sector? The banks, the same JP Morgan Chase that controls Anglo American, will benefit. When workers health insurance runs out, workers will be evicted from the private clinics (maybe even after 1 day or less)- this is the system that the Cosatu, SACP and ANC leaders are promoting. In the USA, millions are excluded from the health insurance, yet the ANC government and our leaders want to force this same system down workers throats.
Further proof that the NHI will be based on boosting the private sector is that hundreds of caregivers have been for 1-2 year training, yet they cannot get work in the public clinics and hospitals. With this training, a few have managed to get work in private clinics and hospitals. Most of those who have been trained have returned to being casual caregivers.