The South African Federation of Trade Unions (SAFTU) has come in support of the government’s proposed National Health Insurance (NHI) scheme, saying part of the reason was that the new system would end ‘racialised’ healthcare (‘NHI only way to end present racialised health regime – SAFTU’, Politicsweb, 28 August). SAFTU claimed that one of the problems with the current two-tier system is that it is ‘racist’.

Ideologically, it is no surprise that SAFTU and its spokesperson, Patrick Craven, have an issue with a private system of healthcare, but it is incorrect to call it a ‘racialised’ system, an indication of how the left in South Africa views issues through a racial, rather than class lens.

According to the latest data from Statistics South Africa, nearly half of all people covered by medical aid are black. Overall, whites account for only about a third of all people covered by medical aid schemes. Coloured people account for about 10%, and Indian South Africans seven percent. One can criticise the current system, but to call it a racialised system, is simply incorrect. One must ask why Mr Craven wants to deprive black people of choice in how they receive their medical care? ….more