Ramaphosa backs David Mabuza’s decision to seek medical care in Russia
President Cyril Ramaphosa has come out in support of his deputy David Mabuza’s decision to seek medical care in Russia, telling MPs it was his “personal choice” to do so.
Ramaphosa was responding to a question from DA leader John Steenhuisen in the National Assembly on Friday.
Steenhuisen wanted to know why Ramaphosa appointed Mabuza to lead an interministerial committee on Covid-19 despite his recent six-week absence from work to receive medical attention in Russia.
The DA leader charged that Mabuza was simply not competent to lead and had effectively passed a vote of no confidence in the country’s public health system by repeatedly seeking medical treatment in Russia.
“I want to ask you specifically about a member of your cabinet, Mr DD Mabuza, your deputy president and the leader of government business in this house. He certainly does not meet any of the criteria which you’ve set out in this house today,” said Steenhuisen.
“You’ve put him in charge of leading the coronavirus response and yet he’s been completely Awol during the pandemic. We also know he’s been missing in action during the crisis. He was recently out of the country for six full weeks, apparently for a routine medical check-up in — what a vote of confidence in the SA healthcare system and your plans for National Health Insurance.”
This did not sit well with Ramaphosa, who lashed out at Steenhuisen by saying he was being inhumane and unkind to Mabuza.
Ramaphosa said he had granted Mabuza leave to go Russia to receive medical treatment.
“In relation to the deputy president, Mr Steenhuisen, some measure of kindness is required when somebody is not well. The deputy president was not well for quite some time and this I know because I got involved in granting him leave so his health can be restored,” Ramaphosa said, to heckles from DA MPs.
“For somebody who is not well to be subjected to the types of attacks which honourable Steenhuisen is subjecting the deputy president, I find that not only unkind, I find that quite terrible.
“Where he gets his treatment in the end is a personal choice, just as anyone would choose which doctor should provide treatment.”
Steenhuisen also wanted Ramaphosa to explain if public money and state resources, including security arrangements, were allocated to Mabuza in Russia.
Ramaphosa said government protocols dictated that a deputy president should be with his security detail at all times regardless of the physical location.
“A deputy president is entitled to security wherever he is. This we don’t choose. We don’t choose to be continuously shadowed by security people.
“It is a requirement because it is taken that because of the positions we are in, we’ve almost become like state property. So wherever the deputy president goes, wherever the president goes, they have to have security, whether they are awake or asleep.
“Wherever the president or deputy president go at any given time, transportation is the responsibility of the government. When they fly it is the responsibility of the air force and this is what comes with the job.”