Mabuza paid for own flights and medical costs in Russia, he tells DA
Deputy president David Mabuza’s six-week trip to Russia to seek medical treatment was not funded by taxpayers, his office said on Friday afternoon.
The only cost borne by the taxpayer, through the presidency, was for a private secretary who accompanied Mabuza - “as per requirements”.
“The transport used was a commercial flight paid for at [the] deputy president’s own personal cost, including for medical costs,” Mabuza said through his spokesperson, Matshepo Seedat, on Friday afternoon.
Mabuza, who is the leader of government business, was answering questions posed to him by the DA’s Solly Malatsi. The questions were submitted on August 10.
The deputy president has been criticised for his recent-six week absence from work to receive medical attention in Russia.
TimesLIVE reported last week that President Cyril Ramaphosa, who granted Mabuza leave to go Russia for treatment, backed his deputy’s decision, telling MPs in the National Assembly that it was his “personal choice” to do so.
Ramaphosa was responding to questions from DA leader John Steenhuisen, who wanted to know why the president appointed Mabuza to lead the interministerial committee on Covid-19 despite his six-week absence.
Last month the Sunday Times reported that a debate about whether Mabuza was medically fit to hold office had reached the top of the ANC, with some members of the national working committee (NWC) questioning if he should continue in his post.
In his parliamentary question, Malatsi asked Mabuza to furnish the house with the exact details on the transport used for the trip, the number of people who accompanied him, where he and those people stayed during the trip as well as the transport used abroad.
He also wanted a total cost breakdown for how much was paid for the transport, accommodation and medical treatment, as well as who paid for it.
Mabuza was also asked if and when he was referred to Russia by the surgeon-general of the SA National Defence Force, as well as why he was not treated in SA and the total cost incurred by the government in each case where he was referred to Russia.
He also asked Mabuza if he was fit to hold office.
Seedat said Ramaphosa had already answered Steenhuisen on this matter.
“President Ramaphosa briefed the house on the principle governing the provision of travel and security for the president and deputy president of the republic at whatever time, wherever they are, as required,” said Seedat.
She said the only costs incurred by the presidency related to the private secretary who accompanied him.
“Parliament was reminded that the deputy president, like any other South African, is entitled to choose his preferred medical practitioner. In the recent past in parliament, the deputy president took South Africans into his confidence about him taking ill and how he ended up receiving life-saving treatment from doctors in the Russian Federation,” she said.
A week ago, Ramaphosa told MPs that “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”.
“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,” he said.
Ramaphosa explained to the house that government protocols dictated that the deputy president should have his security detail at all times, regardless of the physical location.
“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,” said Ramaphosa.