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Mathume Joseph Phaahla assumes the mantle of health minister at a crucial time. Not only does he become the public face of the government’s response to the coronavirus crisis, he will also be responsible for driving the ANC’s plans for national health insurance, the most sweeping and ambitious health reforms attempted in post-apartheid SA.

Phaahla was appointed deputy health minister in May 2014, a relatively low-profile role in which he was largely eclipsed by the energetic and prominent ministers who led the portfolio. He first served under Aaron Motsoaledi, who was appointed by former president Jacob Zuma and, more recently, under Zweli Mkhize, who was assigned the job by President Cyril Ramaphosa in May 2019...

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