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Public input on Health Act must be transparent

The fact that some members of the public are energised and very active in responding to these draft draconian government regulations is great, the writer says.
The fact that some members of the public are energised and very active in responding to these draft draconian government regulations is great, the writer says.
Image: Cebisile Mbonani

For the past few weeks, MPs have been bombarded with emails about a set of recently published draft amendments to the National Health Act. The public has been invited to comment on these government proposals.

The fact that some  members of the public are energised and very active in responding to these draft draconian government regulations is great! I believe that South Africans do not sufficiently participate when opportunities are offered for the public to provide their voice on issues.

But I don’t want to discuss the particular draft Health Act amendments, but the manner how some public participation is taking place. An email is doing the rounds from “The Red List”. I have attempted to investigate who or what The Red List is, and have been unable to reach a conclusion. It appears that The Red List has chosen to participate in this process without a proper strategy on how to participate in the first place

The Red List has chosen to bombard the email inboxes of all MPs, Members of Provincial Legislatures and even officials. To-date, I have received a few hundred emails, all reading exactly the same about the health amendments.

As I stated before, participation by the public is as important as is the modus operandi thereof. The Red List should’ve been strategic in how they were to participate so that the best possible outcome would become a reality.

Firstly, The Red List should’ve introduced themselves so that the email recipient would know from whom the communication emanates. Signing the email with a first name only means nothing and simply doesn’t cut it. Secondly, the mail should be targeted to MPs who serve on the health portfolio committee. It is these members who are on the coal-face of this issue and are intimately occupied with these proposals.

Getting in your voice as early as possible will also put you in good stead to be heard. The last-minute barrage of repeat mails is unproductive.

Manny de Freitas, MP and DA shadow minister of tourism

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