by BAATSHEBA RAMASHALA
BELA-BELA, (CAJ News) – ANOTHER South African politician has lurched into a xenophobic storm after being caught on video hurling abuse at a bedridden woman believed to be Zimbabwean.
Phophi Ramathuba, Member of Executive Council (MEC) for Health in the Limpopo province, neighbouring Zimbabwe, has come under a barrage of criticism for the incident captured at the Bela Bela hospital.
In a video trending on social media, Ramathuba is quoted ordering the female patient to “go back to Zimbabwe to be with Emerson Mnangagwa (President of Zimbabwe)” before demanding that she pays her medical bills incurred at the hospital.
“You’re supposed to be with Mnangagwa. He doesn’t give me money (health budget) to operate you guys. Now I must operate you (Zimbabweans) (sick) with my limited budget,” she continued.
“When you guys are sick, you decide to cross (from Zimbabwe) into Limpopo. That embassy in South Africa is a charity department, that’s what gets said,” Ramathuba fumed.
The health official is quoted as saying most South African citizens do not have medical aid and rely on the state.
“Instead of using my limited budget for what it is meant for, we’re here sorting out something Emerson Mnangagwa must do (for Zimbabweans),” Ramathuba said.
“This is exactly why, when the people of Limpopo want access to health systems, they cannot get it. That is angering the community. You guys (Zimbabweans) aren’t even registered here, you are not counted, some are illegals. It’s unfair. I cannot go to Zimbabwe and get help.”
The local opposition Economic Freedom Fighters (EFF) has condemned the incident.
“This is an outright violation of human rights,” said EFF legislator, Mbuyiseni Ndlozi.
“She (Ramathuba) thinks she is making some brilliant points, with an ill-informed pompous attitude! Why agonise sick persons in hospital beds? Where is your basic humanity & compassion? What a pathetic person this whole MEC is! Afrophobe princess,” Ndlozi said.
The other opposition, Democratic Alliance (DA), has written to the South African Human Rights Commission (SAHRC) over the conduct of Ramathuba.
“This incident is just another reason why she must be fired in order to save the province’s health system,” said Risham Maharaj, DA Limpopo spokesperson for Health.
“We consider Ramathuba’s comments as xenophobic, inconsistent with the standard of treatment that should be afforded to a patient and not in the best interest or wellbeing of the patient,” Maharaj said.
More South Africans reacted with indignation.
Mmapela Mahapa tweeted: “Regardless of how valid she (Ramathuba) thinks the points she’s making are (valid), (but) humiliating a person at their most vulnerable in front of other patients and that audience is completely wrong!”
Thato Thabo demanded that Ramathuba’s doctor’s licence be revoked.
Matome Pheme said: “She (Ramathuba) think(s) she is untouchable and wants to be premier of Limpopo through white linen.”
Langa Lokulunga said: “Deal with the policy level and leave the emotions to us who use public health systems.”
Vusumuzi Malindi argued the health system was a place to save lives.
“Nationality doesn’t matter. Black lives matter,” Malindi said.
Ramathuba, a member of the ruling African National Congress (ANC), is the latest politician to be caught in a xenophobic storm.
Home Affairs Minister, Aaron Motsoaledi, and opposition politician, Herman Mashaba, are among others accused of xenophobic sentiment.
Such attitudes are blamed for fuelling attacks on foreign nationals, most gruesomely the murder of Zimbabwean, Elvis Nyathi in April.
He was stoned and burnt to death by a mob in Diepsloot, north of Johannesburg.
– CAJ News