The MEC’s spokesperson has since responded to a media query about the video.
The Limpopo MEC for Health Dr Phophi Ramathuba has garnered both support and criticism for a viral video in which she tells a Zimbabwean patient at a hospital in Bela-Bela that ‘Mnangagwa doesn’t give me money to operate [on] you guys,’ referring to Zimbabwean President, Emmerson Mnangagwa.
The video, which shows part of a conversation, starts off with Ramathuba asking the patient how she wound up in Bela Bela if she only speaks Shona, and that she must operate on the patient with a limited budget.
In the video Ramathuba refers to Zimbabweans crossing the Limpopo River illegally into South Africa.
“I hear you say, ‘Let’s cross the Limpopo River, there’s an MEC there running a charitable department’,” she says.
Ramathuba then goes on to explain that 91% of the province is dependent on the state for healthcare and that she receives a budget for that purpose.
“You are killing my health system,” she says.
“Instead of using the budget for what it is meant for, I am operating for what Mnangagwa is supposed to do and that is why when my people of Limpopo want health services, they can’t get. That is angering them,” she tells the patient.
Ramthuba goes on to say that the patient is illegal and therefore abusing her.
“It is unfair,” she concludes.
The spokesperson for the MEC, Thilivhali Muavha, told the Polokwane Review that the message conveyed by Ramathuba ‘covers all’.
The video has since gained traction on social media, with a divided opinion over what Ramathuba said.
The EFF’s Deputy President Floyd Shivambu says Ramathuba has ‘violated the Hippocratic Oath which obliges all physicians/doctors to ‘abstain from all intentional wrong-doing and harm, especially from abusing the bodies of man or woman, bond or free’.’
He labelled her remarks as unfair abuse and discrimination.
The DA’s Solly Malatsi says Ramathuba’s comments were reckless as it vilified a foreign national seeking medical assistance.
“She must implore the president to address issues raised through diplomatic channels instead of lambasting a vulnerable patient. This is not leadership,” he says.
Zimbabwean journalist Hopewell Chin’ono, however, agreed with Ramathuba.
“In any normal country this video would be the leading item on all news stations and newspapers, and it would cause emergency debate in parliament tomorrow morning, but not in Zimbabwe. This South African minister is right, Zimbabwe has become an embarrassment due to Zanu PF LOOTING,” he tweeted.