SA Communist Party (SACP) leader Blade Nzimande has called for a single national health insurance scheme that will ensure access to healthcare for all.
Nzimande told delegates at a SA Democratic Teachers Union (Sadtu) general council in Pretoria yesterday that poor people were being denied access to healthcare.
He said the party fully supported a resolution of the ANC conference in Polokwane last year for a national health insurance system.
"No South African should pay upfront to receive treatment, whether at a public or private clinic," Nzimande said. "The situation at present is that if you do not have medical aid you are expected to pay R8000 before treatment."
Nzimande said the SACP was aware that moving away from the current system would affect medical aid schemes.
"But poor people must be in the system. Those who can afford it must subsidise the poor. Health is a right and should not be treated as a commodity," he said.
He told Sadtu members that their responsibility was to implement resolutions of the ANC conference.
Nzimande said the country faced the challenges of job creation, rural development, free education and transformation of the judiciary.
He said criticising the judiciary was not a threat to democracy, "the greatest threat to democracy is the failure to treat the poor with respect".
He said Sadtu had to take a leading role in debates that will result in free education up to the first tertiary qualification.
Nzimande said before the Polokwane conference members of the movement had called for "either a change of heart or leadership in the ANC, but it seems we got both".
He urged delegates to defend the ANC by isolating dissidents, whom he said were "counter revolutionary".
"We knew about plans to form a political party in January when they held a meeting in KwaZulu-Natal. Forming another party was their plan B in case they lost in Polokwane," he said.