Chamisa backs ranting Limpopo doctor; challenges SA to help ensure credible 2023 elections

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By Alois Vinga

CITIZENS Coalition for Change (CCC) president Nelson Chamisa has thrown full weight behind South Africa’s Limpopo MEC for Health amid calls for the neighbouring nation to assist Zimbabwe in holding credible elections to end the crisis.

The Limpopo Member of the Executive Committee (MEC) for Health, Dr Phophi

made headlines recently after berating Zimbabwean patients saying she was considering billing President Emmerson Mnangagwa for health services offered to immigrants.

The rants attracted widespread criticism with the Zimbabwe embassy in SA vowing to engage authorities in the country over the matter.

But in a detailed document seen by Thursday, Chamisa backed Ramathuba saying the patient’s conversation triggered very sad emotions in him.

“As I listened to my dear compatriot expressing gratitude to the MEC, I was filled with a deep sense of regret, sadness, and rage. Her vulnerability reminded us of the real impact of poor leadership on the lives and dignity of our people. For me, it deepened my resolve to change it.

“Like many other Zimbabweans who have had to shelter outside our borders, she did not want to be there. It was not her choice. She is there because her leaders, back at home, do not care about her,” he said.

Chamisa said, by the government’s own estimates, people have left the country at a higher rate than at any time in Zimbabwe’s history since the onset of the second republic with migration reaching its peak in 2021.

South African politician and medical doctor Phophi Constance Ramathuba

The opposition leader said in the 12 months to March 2020, the UK took in 1,059 Zimbabweans on that country’s skilled work visa and by 2022, that number had increased to 5 549 visas to Zimbabweans for skilled work, a figure he said has gone up by 424% in just two years.

Chamisa lamented the fact that Zimbabwe is among the top five recipients of skilled visas to the UK regardless of the fact that a country with a population of just 15 million is now in the same category with nations such as India – with its population of over a billion – in terms of exporting skills.

“We are losing skilled people more than countries that are at war. Where are all these skilled people coming from? Many are coming out of our hospitals. Not only are they unable to feed their families, but they also have to face the emotional and psychological trauma of watching their patients die from what should be easily treatable ailments,” he said.

The opposition leader said data from the survey show that the country has a ratio of 1,6 doctors per 10,000 people contrary to 23 doctors per 10,000 people in line with international best practices with the nurses to patients ratio standing at s 7,2 nurses per 10,000 people as opposed to 83 per 10,000 people.

“Currently, more than 700 children have been killed by measles, a disease that should not be afflicting us in this century. Our maternal mortality rate is 462 per 100 000 live births, one of the highest in the world. Our neonatal mortality rate is at 31 deaths per 1 000 live births.

“This rate has not changed since 1988, showing the lack of progress in healthcare,” he said.

He said just recently, his heart broke after seven babies were stillborn in one night at Harare Central Hospital, because their mothers did not get the care they needed in time.

“Our call to our neighbours is this; we appreciate your benevolence and patience, but you should not have to carry this burden any longer than you already have,” said Chamisa.

“Help us to hold credible elections. We are encouraged that President Cyril Ramaphosa has said the immigration crisis will be discussed at regional level.

“Now, more strongly than ever, SADC must demand reforms. We do not ask for anything new; only that Zimbabwe hold elections that meet already existing SADC guidelines.”