Open letter to SA's Limpopo health MEC

Dr Phophi Ramathuba

DEAR  Ramathuba,

I kindly write to respond to your xenophobic video in which you, Limpopo provincial Member of the Executive Council Phophi Ramathuba, attacked a Zimbabwean patient at Bela Bela Provincial Hospital.

You indicated to the patient that their country must take responsibility for its health issues and not South Africa.

I hereby and respond to show you how Zimbabweans have contributed to the benefits you are enjoying in South Africa today.

First, the patient that you called an illegal immigrant shares the same Tonga, Venda and the Pedi ancestors that run in your veins.

It is unconscionable for you to label a person who comes back to their ancestral land a foreigner. 

Who drew the borders that you are using to call a fellow tribeswoman a foreigner in their own land?

Second, the freedom that you as a South African enjoy today was from the blood of the patient’s ancestors who fought with valour with fellow South Africans to defeat the evil apartheid regime.

During the struggle for South African independence, Zimbabwe gave refuge to African National Congress combatants, sacrificed blood and treasure beyond measure to advance the freedoms that you enjoy today.

Third, the doctors, nurses, gardeners who you demonise are actually helping Limpopo grow at the expense of their motherland.

They have toiled and made your province richer. They have worked in your province for peanuts, yet they stay to help their fellow brothers.

The skills and expertise that have benefited your province was paid in education by Zimbabwe, yet your province did not contribute a cent towards that critical skills development.

Instead of demonising the leadership in Zimbabwe, why not for once write a cheque of thank you to Zimbabwe?

These immigrants have paid taxes and yet they have never, nor will they ever claim benefits.

Their contributions have enriched your State and local government coffers such that the province can pay you millions of rands per year.

Fourth, Limpopo cannot thrive economically without the lifeblood of economic stimulations from Zimbabwe.

Thousands of Zimbabweans everyday flock to Limpopo to buy goods from Limpopo shops, thereby stimulating the local economy.

They stay in your hotels, dine in your restaurants, source goods from local businesses, thus stimulating your local economy. Many of them pay value-added tax to your State, yet they will never claim a cent.

I remember spending thousands of rand in Limpopo while repatriating my loved brother’s mortal remains.

Why don’t you encourage your businesses to deny Zimbabweans purchasing power in your province?

Oh wait, lest I forget, your so-called medical qualification was made possible by a Zimbabwean teacher, your children, if you have any, your poor children in the province are being enlightened by the Zimbabwean teachers.

Since you are a fair-minded lady, why don’t you pay Zimbabwe skills transfer tax for the benefits you are enjoying for free.

Fifth, Zimbabwe is South Africa’s biggest trading partner. By importing most goods from South Africa, Zimbabweans are directly stimulating economic activities in your country.

Zimbabwe currently has a huge trade deficit with South Africa, which implies that Zimbabwe is sending millions and millions of dollars to South Africa more than it is receiving in return.

In economic terms, it means that Zimbabweans are subsidising the South African economy at their own expense.

I am sure you did maths in school, I would suggest that you deduct the few funds that those Zimbabweans are enjoying by accessing your healthcare services, and then compensate Zimbabwe for the remainder of the deficit.

Sixth, some of the electricity that you consume in Limpopo, passes through the infrastructure constructed and paid for by Zimbabwe.

Since you are a so-called astute politician, why not make a call to the Eskom boss and kindly ask them to compensate Zimbabwe for the fair market value for that infrastructure.

Oh wait, I have one close to you, the department that you lead has led to Zimbabweans dying unnecessarily due to medical malpractices and negligence.

Why not compensate their families using the internationally recognised metric of the value of statistical life?

Or even a better one, why not deny those Zimbabweans who pay millions of rand to get treatment in private practice?

Finally, my grandparents used to say an incompetent, corrupt, greedy no good politician will blame a consequence of their deeds on the foreign neighbour.

Zimbabweans will continue to come to their neighbour Limpopo and seek medical care whether you like it or not.

A competent politician will work hard to give first rate healthcare to both locals and neighbours.

Yours sincerely,

Tendai Kamba

  • Tendai Kamba is a social commentator and writes in his personal capacity

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