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Zim Embassy expresses shock over Limpopo MEC outburst 

The Embassy of Zimbabwe in South Africa says the two neighbouring countries have appropriate channels for communication that ought to be fully utilised for raising grievances, breaking its silence after Limpopo Health Member of the Executive Council (MEC), Dr Phophi Ramathuba berated a Zimbabwean patient who had sought surgery at a public hospital.

Located in Pretoria, the Zimbabwean embassy officially expressed concern over the way Dr Ramathuba addressed a Zimbabwean patient who was admitted to Bela-Bela Hospital.

“The Embassy of the Republic of Zimbabwe in Pretoria watched with shock and disbelief the video (images) in which the MEC of health spoke to a Zimbabwean national who happened to be a patient in a hospital in the province,” read the statement dated August 26, 2022  

The Embassy said it had contacted the South African government over this matter, relaying Zimbabwe’s own concerns.

“The Embassy has been in contact with the government of South Africa through the Department of International Relations and Cooperation (DIRCO) to who it has conveyed the concerns of the government of Zimbabwe on the comments made by the MEC,” said Zimbabwe’s diplomatic envoy.

Migrant rights activist, Dr Vusumuzi Sibanda, leader of the African Diaspora Global Network welcomed this statement from the Zimbabwean Embassy as a “fair comment” considering the circumstances.

“If you follow interviews with the MEC, the MEC did not have all the facts and she did not even know why the person was in the country or what documents she had. She said she knew other people had irregular situations but not this particular lady,” he said in an interview with CITE.

“We do welcome this statement from the Embassy and we do understand that politically of course, the Embassy can only deal with the government of South Africa through DIRCO and we do appreciate it.”

However, Dr Sibanda said there should be more robust engagement between the two countries to address such issues as they affect both and can result in unwanted ripple effects.  

“But unfortunately, it’s not likely to happen because of the relations between (South Africa’s ruling party) ANC and (Zimbabwe’s ruling party_ Zanu PF because of the dynamics that are involved, where the government of Zimbabwe will just say ‘people come back to Zimbabwe’ despite the challenges they face,” observed the activist.

“So, it is a very sad state of affairs but at least this statement is better than nothing or just keeping quiet.”

Dr Sibanda also praised Zimbabwe’s Ambassador to South Africa, David Hamadziripi, saying he was on the ground most of the time, engaging with people.

“We believe Ambassador Hamadziripi has tried a number of times, I’ve seen that he really likes being on the ground and working with people on the ground as an ambassador,” he said.

“I don’t know how many or if other ambassadors really do that in their communities but I think he is really one of the ambassadors from the Zimbabwean side that really gets to the ground and meets with people, talks to them. Therefore, he is doing quite a good job and that statement is relatively fair.”

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