By Thandiwe Garusa
LIMPOPO provincial health minister, Phophi Ramathuba, has said there was nothing wrong with her expressing frustrations to a Zimbabwean woman who was scheduled for a surgery at a hospital in Bela Bela, South Africa.
In a video which went viral Tuesday, Ramathuba was heard confronting the patient, telling her that Zimbabwe must be responsible for her health and not South Africa.
The video has triggered debate among the two neighbouring countries and opposition parties in South Africa have demanded that Ramathuba be fired, saying she was unprofessional and xenophobic.
However, speaking to South Africa’s broadcaster SABC news Wednesday, Ramathuba defended herself, saying it was her duty to protect the people of Limpopo.
“It is the responsibility of the MEC in Limpopo to make sure that the people of Limpopo live a healthy and long life. When people of Limpopo are waiting to be operated and they are not getting joy, they come to no one other than myself and when there are challenges that I see affecting even our initiatives as a province, I will have to address those challenges.
“So yes, I will have to deal with anything that has to do with health issues in my province for the sake of these people in Limpopo,” Ramathuba said.
She reiterated that her provinces’ limited resources are for South Africans and foreigners should get assistance in their countries.
“These people whom we said must be beneficiaries of the rural care matters projects do not have any other option, their option is the public health services in the Limpopo department of health. These other ones who are foreign nationals (illegally) have got an option for their countries to save them.
“Now the last hope of the Limpopo people, which is this rural care matters project, when it is being hijacked, it is again defeating the very same hope that a child of a domestic worker would be operated and go back to school, probably graduate and come and help her mother.
“Now he might remain disabled for the rest of his life because as a government we would have failed the people of Limpopo to make sure they have got that access to quality healthcare,” she said.