Zimbabweans divided over Limpopo MEC sentiments

Zimbabweans have expressed divided opinions concerning the viral video clip of Limpopo Health, Member of the Executive Council (MEC) Dr Phophi Ramathuba castigating Zimbabwean migrants for burdening that country’s health services.  

Reactions to the MEC’s sentiments showed polarising opinions, beliefs, including hurt and fear Zimbabweans have about the migrant crisis in South Africa and Zimbabwe’s own economic failures.

This was after Dr Ramathuba in a viral clip said to an identified Zimbabwean patient seeking treatment at Bela-Bela hospital “You’re supposed to be with (Zimbabwean President Emmerson) Mnangagwa, he doesn’t give me money to operate you guys. Now I must operate you with my limited budget…”

Some Zimbabweans believe anyone must access health care services despite their positions and blamed the Zanu PF led-government for failing to fix the economy, causing citizens to face humiliation including xenophobia in South Africa.

Others believed Zimbabweans outside must come back home, register to vote in order to change the leaders and not continue burdening foreign systems.

Participating in a CITE Twitter Spaces discussion on the remarks by the Limpopo MEC, citizens expressed divided opinions about the issue of migration and its ripple effects.

“The MEC raised pertinent issues but if you look at our healthcare in Zimbabwe, it is so chaotic. This speaks to politics, governance in Zimbabwe and how we are going to deal with our own problems when people have options to say let’s go elsewhere,” said Nkosikhona Dibiti.

“Besides as Zimbabweans, do we have the capacity to say all those illegal migrants come back? Let’s have a frank conversation.”

Thabiso Sibanda said despite the deterioration of Zimbabwe’s own health care, what the MEC did was unethical.

“She should not have addressed such issues to a patient on their sick bed. There is a patient’s charter, where patients have rights when accessing services. Certain rights must be respected regardless whether one is a legal or illegal immigrant. As a Doctor you make an oath in terms of delivering services, you must be respectful and non- discriminatory to the recipient,” she said.

“I find it shocking that the MEC is so comfortable to utter those utterances. The MEC is a political position and has access to the minister of health and president, she should have addressed the burdened health service issue to them. We cannot justify abuse of patients under the guise we have problems.”

Mlungisi Moyo stated that Zimbabweans were condemning the MEC yet locally failed to condemn some local institutions who turned away people for lacking treatment money.

“When I fail to access health care from a certain health facility, people will condemn me and ask why I even went there without money. South Africa is spending money on Zimbabweans while the Zimbabwean government can’t provide basic services. We have to bear in mind South Africa has a budget,” he said.

However, Wellington Ndlovu insisted the Limpopo MEC disregarded professional conduct by her actions.

“She decided to act as border immigration yet it’s not her remit. She forgot the reasons why she was there. Her job is delivering medical services to those admitted in hospital. She is not a policeman nor immigration control. That was not a forum to echo her political sentiments. She must use the ballot to vote for her sentiments, she’s an embarrassment to the medical profession,” he said.

“Yes, all countries should invest in appropriate medical care. But she must be actually barred from her profession for gross misconduct.”

Writing on his Twitter timeline, oppositional politician, Tendai Biti said it was regrettable the State has failed to build a functional economy with functional institutions.

“That millions of our citizens are now being subjected to extreme humiliation and xenophobia across continent is a crime of omission by the Mnangagwa regime . The same has siphoned off billions in scam and scandal whilst its social delivery programs collapsed. It’s time for new leaders,” he said.

South African politician from the opposition Economic Freedom Fighters, Mbuyiseni Ndlozi described the MEC’s conduct as an outright violation of human rights.

“She thinks she is making some brilliant points, with an ill-informed pompous attitude! Why agonise sick persons in hospital beds? Where is your basic humanity and compassion,” he wrote on Twitter.

Ndlozi said the MEC violated basic ethics of patient treatment, confidentiality and dignity so must be removed from her position and licence as medical doctor revoked.

“That MEC is humiliating a Zimbabwean. Next unemployed South Africans will be told they can’t be operated because they don’t contribute anything to taxes budgets are based on! But why humiliate a patient like that? Where are medical ethics? Confidentiality and Dignity? No one, not even migrant workers or so called African ‘illegal immigrants’ deserve humiliation in our hospitals,” he said.

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