'We refuse to jump on the anti-Phophi Ramathuba bandwagon': Gayton McKenzie defends health MEC

Patriotic Alliance leader Gayton McKenzie.
Patriotic Alliance leader Gayton McKenzie.
Image: Eugene Coetzee/The Herald

Patriotic Alliance leader Gayton McKenzie has defended Limpopo health MEC Phophi Ramathuba amid calls for her to step down. 

Ramathuba came under fire this week after saying illegal immigrants place strain on the province's healthcare system. 

She was caught on video telling a Zimbabwean patient the provincial health department was not a charity organisation.

Her statement angered many, including the DA and EFF, who called it afrophobic and demanded she be given the boot. 

McKenzie said his party stands with Ramathuba, calling her a “true leader”.

“We will stand by you as Patriotic Alliance; you are a true leader. You understand who voted for you to serve them.”

In a statement, McKenzie said his party will not join the bandwagon of outrage against Ramathuba.

“There are very few countries, if any, where a foreign national with no legal documentation can expect to receive the same level of healthcare treatment as a citizen of that country.

“Those who have joined the bandwagon of outrage against Ramathuba appear to think SA must be the exception.”

He agreed with Ramathuba that illegal immigrants are placing strain on all government services. 

“They are far from the only problem besetting our country, but to try to downplay the scale of the problem is something that seems only to be done by those privileged enough to afford medical aid and private healthcare.”

McKenzie slammed the DA and EFF for demanding that Ramathuba step down. 

“Those same angry writers of press statements in the ranks of the DA and EFF should first try competing with illegal immigrants for access to government services and entry-level jobs before they complain about a MEC who has had the courage to say something obvious to the majority of our citizens.”

The health department also defended Ramathuba, saying her statement was not xenophobic.

Speaking on eNCA, deputy health minister Sibongiseni Dhlomo said Ramathuba should not have raised her concerns with the patient.

“It was an inappropriate space for that discussion to take place there.”  

The department of international relations and co-operation said it would not get involved. 

Spokesperson Clayson Monyela told News24  Ramathuba’s outburst was not yet “a diplomatic incident”.

“If Zimbabwe was to raise the incident through diplomatic channels, only then would Dirco become involved. So far, it’s not a diplomatic incident. It has not been elevated.”

He also suggested that the outburst was not xenophobic, saying: “You guys need to revisit the meaning of the word xenophobia. It's ridiculous how you misuse and abuse it.”



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