Philip van Staden would not mince his phrases. As the Freedom Entrance Plus’s lone MP in Parliament’s Portfolio Committee on Health, he’s identified to be vocal, most ceaselessly pelting the health minister and health division officers with questions. In his seek, “The ANC [African National Congress] government should always composed be removed to enable suppose hospitals to but all over again offer effective carrier delivery and distinctive quality.”
Van Staden says he’s recovering from prostate cancer surgical treatment conducted at Mediclinic Panorama remaining month. For the length of the interview, he shifts in his seat. “Patients are paying with their lives and right here’s what’s making me angry,” he says, speaking over Zoom from his house within the Parliamentary Village, Acacia Park.
The 47-twelve months-worn baby-kisser purchased stuck in Cape Town after being identified with cancer all the blueprint in which through the identical time because the outlet of Parliament on February 10. His necessary other Sumaré and their six-twelve months-worn daughter indulge in since travelled from the household’s house in Bergtuin in Tshwane to enhance him in Cape Town all over his restoration. He will know in August whether the operation used to be successful.
“I’ve purchased a medical wait on,” says Van Staden. “I mean, all contributors of Parliament are on medical wait on. So I could perchance trail to any sanatorium and acquire abet instant. Peaceable, it used to be an extended process. I used to be identified in February and the operation took dwelling on the 12th of Can even just. Nonetheless I used to be questioning to myself, a patient who doesn’t indulge in a medical wait on, who need to trail to a suppose sanatorium the build he’s identified with cancer and he says, ‘listen, you potentially can need to address me now for my cancer. It’s miles crucial to abet me, please’. And they state, ‘sorry, we don’t indulge in chemo, we don’t indulge in medication, we are able to’t reduction you.’”
‘Don’t acquire empty guarantees’
Twisting his wedding ceremony band on his finger, Van Staden continues: “That’s why I’m asserting the ANC is making me very angry. Don’t inform folks you will give them essentially the most easy medical carrier and so forth and as well you cannot provide it, because you couldn’t provide it within the previous 27 years. Don’t blueprint castles and dreams for sufferers whenever you occur to can’t offer what you are promising. That’s what makes me so angry about this government.”
Van Staden says he serves on the health portfolio committee because it offers him the energy to abet folks in particular these reckoning on the final public health sector. (Characterize: Supplied/Highlight)
As a member of Parliament’s Portfolio Committee on Health, undoubtedly one of Van Staden’s key tasks is to partake in deliberations on the Nationwide Health Insurance (NHI) Invoice. As a permanent committee member, Van Staden (for the FF Plus) has one vote. The IFP and EFF even indulge in one vote each, the DA has two votes, and the ANC has the majority with six votes. This voting energy is well-known for crucial issues, such because the NHI Invoice.
On Can even just 18, the committee met to take into memoir a circulation of desirability of the bill, meaning they’d to mediate if the committee will trail ahead with the bill. Reflecting on the voting process that day, he says, “There were seven contributors voting in favour of the bill, which used to be the ANC, and the Inkatha Freedom Party [IFP],” says Van Staden. “And then four contributors who voted towards the bill, which used to be myself, two contributors of the DA [Democratic Alliance], and one member of the EFF [Economic Freedom Fighters]. The vote from the EFF is terribly keen, them going towards the ANC.”
Van Staden lifts the Authorities Gazette containing the 60-page bill up in front of him. To this level, the document has sparked some 358,000 feedback submissions from folks and various organisations all the blueprint in which through the country.
“So, the ANC is terribly adamant to acquire this law on the books,” says Van Staden. “For sure, they’re pushing an agenda. The NHI Invoice is most ceaselessly the greatest action from the ANC since 1994 — to nationalise the private health sector. It’s miles crucial to realise their promise to their voters: you’re going to acquire sufficient healthcare, sufficient clinics, sufficient hospitals. The subject is now we indulge in seen over the previous 27 years, since 1994, the ANC hasn’t even saved existing infrastructure intact.”
‘In the end I’ll be there’
Van Staden attended Voortrekker Eeufees Primary College and Pretoria Noord Excessive College, the build he matriculated in 1994. He relays how, from the age of seven, he would sit down watching the outlet of Parliament on television yearly, telling his fogeys: “In the end I’ll be there.” His ambition used to be quelled in 1993 when he used to be 17, when his father handed away, leaving no money for tertiary training.
“I had to be the person within the condominium and abet my mother,” says Van Staden. “In matric already, I’d been working in assorted locations just like the Grab n Pay to acquire some money. Then I believed, neatly let’s originate a industry. I drew up a belief and went to every single bank in South Africa. No one wanted to give me a mortgage because I didn’t indulge in a credit document. I mean, I factual came out of college. So I made a decision to originate my maintain companies with zero rand, and I did. I used to be a jack of all trades. Property, the motor industry… In actuality, I made rather hundreds of cash.”
Van Staden says that from the acquire collectively’s inception in 1994, the politics of the FF Plus (then the Freedom Entrance) resonated with him. He modified into to tubby-time politics in 2006. “I saw how folks were starting up to fight below the policies of the ANC,” he says. “And I talked about to myself, I’m going to abet these communities. And that’s why I started with sector policing and as chairperson of the [Westmoot] ratepayers’ association for the suburbs of Mountain Undercover agent, Suiderberg, Booysens, Claremont, Daspoort, Pretoria Gardens, and Roseville. In 2011, I used to be elected to the Tshwane Metro Council for the FF Plus, the build I had energy to abet these communities.”
In the 2014 national and provincial elections, Van Staden used to be elected member of the Provincial Legislature [MPL] for the FF Plus in Gauteng, the build he would reduction until 2019. While on the legislature’s Portfolio Committee on Roads and Transport, it used to be health components that stirred his passion.
Philip van Staden used to be elected to national Parliament in 2019. (Characterize: Supplied/Highlight)
“We started combating about health within the Gauteng Legislature when I wasn’t even on the health portfolio,” he recalls. “In 2014, I obtained a criticism from fogeys about their little one at Mamelodi Sanatorium, which is a suppose sanatorium [in Tshwane]. And I attended to the criticism, but that patient died per week later, for the rationale that MEC at that stage, Qedani Mahlangu, didn’t help to my criticism. I had to stand up within the legislature, within the condominium, to state to the speaker that the MEC didn’t help to my criticism, and that night the patient died. So there I realised now we indulge in a huge subject in hospitals. After that, I started digging into why this squawk in our hospitals is occurring. Then there used to be the Existence Esidimeni tragedy [the deaths of 144 people at Gauteng psychiatric facilities in 2016, from causes including starvation and neglect].”
Recalling his time within the Gauteng legislature within the wake of the Existence Esidimeni tragedy, he says, “So I started taking part in health debates within the legislature, asking questions. That used to be a unpleasant time for health and when I came to Parliament in 2019, I talked about I’m able to indulge in to be on the health portfolio committee because right here I’m able to indulge in energy to abet folks within the suppose hospitals, by tackling government and that’s why I am on the health portfolio at the present time.”
The Existence Esidimeni inquest started on 19 July 2021. (Characterize: Joyrene Kramer/Highlight)
Elected as an MP in 2019, the acquire collectively deployed him to reduction on the Portfolio Committee on Health. He says his questions within the Nationwide Meeting are suggested by public complaints he receives from sufferers at suppose hospitals, plus learn that he does himself. “I’m doing my maintain learn,” he says. “My PA is no longer doing my learn. My secretary is no longer doing my learn. I’m doing my maintain learn and I’m writing my maintain speeches.”
He elaborates on the complaints. “The no 1 criticism I’m getting is this — sufferers who don’t acquire food, who haven’t eaten in five days. A patient is presupposed to enter theatre, who doesn’t trail into theatre. So for five days, that patient is laying there without food.
“The 2nd one is: a patient laying there who has been attended to, operated on, but who doesn’t get any remedy, excluding for Panados. So whenever you occur to head into the subject, you survey out that the sanatorium doesn’t even indulge in remedy. Then you jump on the MEC and the MEC jumps on the HOD of the sanatorium, and by some ability, they acquire remedy for that patient.
“The numerous huge complaints we on the entire also acquire are about infrastructure within the hospitals. There’s no lavatory paper, there’s no water, there’s no cleaning soap, there’s no clear linen. Remaining Friday, I obtained a criticism from Steve Biko [Academic] Sanatorium in Pretoria, the build they’d admitted a patient, and the patient used to be build in a tent in front of the building. I began to build a inquire of to questions, but this patient died, unfortunately.”
Van Staden says the patient had stage 4 cancer and used to be admitted at Steve Biko on Can even just 22 the build she used to be build in a tent attributable to an “unavailability of beds”. The patient used to be also deaf-soundless. “I am busy drawing up questions for the minister of health concerning this subject,” he says.
The Nationwide Meeting. (Characterize: Siyabulela Duda/GCIS)
Driving on the identical ship
Does somebody can indulge in to be a member of the FF Plus to build a inquire of to for his abet? “No, anybody can technique me,” says Van Staden. “I’m serving to an particular individual because it’s my responsibility as a member of Parliament to enact that. So any individual or any patient at a sanatorium who has an peril can phone or WhatsApp me. Then I ship back a little bit questionnaire of ten questions because I need the sure bet of a patient — your ID number, what mattress are you in, what ward, who’s your physician currently? And when I seek what province the sanatorium is in, then I instantly contact the MEC or his or her PA instantly, instantly, to state, listen, I obtained this criticism.”
Responding to a inquire of on perceptions that the FF Plus can also very neatly be a racist acquire collectively, he says: “No, the Freedom Entrance Plus is no longer a racist acquire collectively. I mean, we’ve purchased brown contributors on the provincial legislatures. We’ve purchased brown contributors in municipal councils. We had sad these that were running for us as candidates within the remaining election, and within the 2019 election.”
He adds: “I will brush apart such an announcement fully. The object is, as South Africans, we’re all using on the identical ship. If this ship is sinking, all of us will sink collectively — whether you are white, brown, sad, purple, or red. And that’s our fight towards the ANC government. Things can’t trail on like this.”
Reflecting on his work ethic, Van Staden says: “I labored my blueprint up in industry, and I labored my blueprint up in politics. I’m a essentially laborious worker. I’m essentially a workaholic. I’m an particular individual who’s terribly dedicated. If I commit myself to something, I will give my entire lifestyles to that.”
He adds: “I need to state I am residing my dream, the dream I had as a little bit one. And I ponder I am very fortunate to be succesful to enact that.” DM/MC
*This article is share of Highlight’s NHI lawmakers’ sequence. We beforehand interviewed the present health committee chair Dr Kenneth Jacobs (ANC) and committee member Magdalene Hlengwa (IFP) as neatly because the present health spokesperson for the DA, Michele Clarke. We’ve also interviewed worn committee chair Dr Sibongeseni Dhlomo (ANC) and worn committee member Siviwe Gwarube (DA). No subject varied attempts, now we indulge in up to now been unable to gather an interview with a committee member from the EFF.
*This article used to be published by Highlight – health journalism within the final public passion.