Health MEC went a taunt too far by dragging in Madiba - Times LIVE
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Health MEC went a taunt too far by dragging in Madiba

The Editor, The Times Newspaper | 2012-04-03 00:10:57.0
Former president Nelson Mandela. File photo.
Image by: Simon Mathebula

The Times Editorial: It is unfortunate that the continued spat between the Eastern Cape and Western Cape provincial governments seems to have sunk to a new low with the name of former president Nelson Mandela being dragged into it.

The battle of words, initiated by Western Cape Premier Helen Zille when she tweeted two weeks ago that her province was being targeted by "education refugees" from the neighbouring Eastern Cape, has drawn combatants from both the ANC and the DA.

Since then, it has become an almost daily exchange of insults between the two provincial governments that has shown little political leadership but plenty of desire to out-punch each other.

This is, in some ways, to be expected between the ANC and its main opposition. The DA desperately wants to show that its power is not restricted to running Western Cape and targeting Eastern Cape for votes makes for good strategy.

But some things should be left outside such a fight.

Last week, the Western Cape MEC for health, Theuns Botha, stepped beyond the reasonable when he dragged Mandela's name into the argument by disclosing details of how the former president was transported.

Clearly trying to score a quick point, Botha said: "I never wanted to mention it. Do you know that that government doesn't have the ability to provide the former president of this nation, Father Nelson Mandela, with an ambulance and paramedics?"

He continued, saying that Western Cape had had to provide an ambulance.

Given the sensitivity of the situation with Mandela, and the repeated requests for privacy by those caring for him, Botha certainly touched a nerve.

That political parties will disagree and squabble is a foregone conclusion. It is, however, a pity that Botha could not contain himself in splashing out on Mandela's name. With this, the DA has done itself no favours.


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