Limpopo’s MEC for Health, Phophi Ramathuba, believes that leaders can do more to keep hospitals from becoming overcrowded.

On Thursday evening, she spoke virtually with renowned Zimbabwean journalist Hopewell Chin’ono to “correct the record” after videos surfaced of her reprimanding Zimbabwean patients being treated at Limpopo health facilities.

Chin’ono asked the MEC if she agreed that leaders had failed to ensure the health system’s stability in South Africa.

Chin’ono’s conversation with Ramathuba comes after two weeks of back-and-forth between the MEC, the media, and the Zimbabwean embassy over a video in which Ramathuba can be heard telling a Zimbabwean patient at Bela Bela Hospital that immigrants are a burden on Limpopo’s health system.

On Wednesday, a second video of the MEC reprimanding a Zimbabwean patient surfaced, reigniting the debate. In the second video, Ramathuba sta

ted that she would bill Zimbabwean President Emmerson Mnangagwa for the patient’s maternity care.

Ramathuba’s views have been criticised, with many claiming that her actions were xenophobic and that she should not have taken her rage out on patients.

Previously, the MEC told News24 that everyone in the country, including undocumented immigrants, was entitled to adequate healthcare.

Members of Operation Dudula have been stationed at various Gauteng public hospitals to prevent immigrants from accessing healthcare since the first Ramathuba video went viral two weeks ago. Operation Dudula has received widespread condemnation for encouraging xenophobia and vigilantism.

The majority of Ramathuba’s conversation with Chin’ono’s listeners on Thursday night were from Zimbabwe.

During the Q&A session, Zimbabweans took turns thanking her for assisting immigrants and bringing the plight of Zimbabweans to light.

One listener noted that the elephant in the room was Mnangagwa’s poor leadership, which included appointing a soldier as Zimbabwe’s health minister in 2020.

Because Ramathuba’s jurisdiction shared a border with Zimbabwe, the vast majority of immigrants treated in Limpopo’s public hospitals were Zimbabweans. She stated that she was not upset with Zimbabweans or Mnangagwa. She explained that she mentioned Mnangagwa in the second video because he is Zimbabwe’s president.

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