Zim patient video: Phophi Ramathuba must go

Issued by Risham Maharaj MPL – DA Limpopo Spokesperson for Health
24 Aug 2022 in News

Please find attached a soundbite by Risham Maharaj MPL.

The DA in Limpopo has written to the South African Human Rights Commission (SAHRC) over the unacceptable conduct of Limpopo Health MEC Phophi Ramathuba toward a Zimbabwean patient in a video. This incident is just another reason why she must be fired in order to save the province’s health system.

The video that has been widely circulated shows Ramathuba berating and humiliating a patient in a room full of onlookers. Ramathuba asks the patient what a Shona speaker is doing in Bela-Bela “when you are supposed to be with Mnangagwa” and berates the patient for being an illegal immigrant and then proceeds to blame foreign nationals for “killing my health system.”

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 well being of the patient.

As an MEC, she should have treated the situation with the necessary sensitivity despite her own frustrations and ensured the foreign national is afforded the same level of respect and treatment as any other patient.

There are legislative channels the MEC can explore to deal with the challenges of resources that do not include embarrassing a patient seeking medical assistance.

It is disingenuous of the MEC to use foreign nationals as a scapegoat and blame them for the province’s ailing health system. Her irresponsible utterances might even stoke xenophobic attacks from locals who believe foreign nationals are responsible for the poor healthcare services in Limpopo.

Ramathuba has been a perennial underachiever in her role as MEC and has overseen the lacklustre performance of the province’s health department. She cannot place the difficulty of running the province’s health department on foreign nationals alone and side step years of her department’s failures, corruption, mismanagement and incompetence.

The DA will file a complaint with the Limpopo Legislature Ethics Committee and the Health Professions Council of South Africa (HPCSA) over the conduct of Ramathuba in the video. We will also ask parliamentary questions on the cost of treating people without medical aid to establish the extent of the issue and then address it through the appropriate legislature channels.