Ramaphosa flashes middle finger to Mnangagwa

President Cyril Ramaphosa


SIMMERING tensions between Zimbabwe and South Africa this week exploded after an outburst by a top provincial health official in the neighbouring country who took swipe at President Emmerson Mnangagwa over his leadership and governance failures. Dr Phophi Ramathuba, the head of health in Limpopo province, who was on a tour of Bela Bela Hospital in the region, came across a Zimbabwean woman admitted to the health centre.

The Zimbabwean had been involved in an accident in Harare and crossed the border for a medical operation.

Upon learning that she was a Shona-speaking patient, Ramathuba immediately seethed with anger and accused her of being one of the Zimbabweans who are burdening South Africa’s public hospitals due to Mnangagwa’s governance failures.

“You speak Shona, so how do you find yourself in Bela Bela Mpumalanga when you are supposed to be with Mnangagwa? You know he does not give me money to operate you guys. I am operating you with my limited budget. You are killing my health system. When you guys are sick, I am hearing that you just say, ‘let’s cross the Limpopo River, there’s a MEC there who’s running a charity department. It’s not. I am going to tell you something that is truthful and painful.”

“In Limpopo, we have 5.7 million people, 91% do not have medical aid, they are dependent on the state. Instead of using the budget for what it’s meant for, I’m operating for what Mnangagwa is supposed to do. That is why when my people of Limpopo want health services, they can’t get. That is angering the community. You are not even registered anywhere. It’s unfair,” she said.

During the Robert Mugabe era, South African leaders would not dare challenge him directly or, worse still, denigrate him publicly in name. They regarded him a statesman.

However, the Ramathuba diatribe shows the extent to which the neighbouring country has lost respect for Mnangagwa and his Zanu-PF.

The video of her outburst went viral on social media, attracting anger from some Zimbabweans who felt she had been insensitive to the plight of the patient.

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