Thapelo Lekabe
Digital Journalist
4 minute read
9 Dec 2021
3:41 pm

My trip to Russia was solely for medical reasons, Mabuza tells Mazzone

Thapelo Lekabe

'I’m grateful for the progress that I’ve made so far with regards to my health,' said the deputy president.

Deputy President David Mabuza appearing in the National Assembly on Thursday to respond to oral questions posed by MPs. Picture: @PresidencyZA/Twitter

Deputy President David Mabuza says his six-week trip to Russia earlier this year was solely for the purpose of a scheduled medical consultation and not to meet with any individuals or entities in that country.

Appearing on Thursday before the National Assembly, Mabuza dismissed speculation that his leave of absence in July meant that he was unable to discharge his duties as the country’s second in command.

“The trip that I’ve undertaken to the Russian Federation during my leave of absence was solely for the purpose of a scheduled medical consultation.

“As such, the consultation with my long-standing medical team was held as per the objective of the visit and I’ve been in hospital for the duration of my stay there,” Mabuza said.

ALSO READ:  Mabuza’s choice to get treated in Russia is none of your business, Ramaphosa says

Mabuza, who is also the leader of government business in the House, was in Cape Town for his last session for the year to respond to MPs oral questions.

He was answering a question posed by Democratic Alliance (DA) chief whip Natasha Mazzone, who wanted to know whether Mabuza had attended any meetings with any person, entity or organisation while he was in Russia.

The deputy president was in Russia for a scheduled medical consultation, according to his office. This was for a follow-up to his previous medical consultations, after he was allegedly poisoned during his tenure as the premier of Mpumalanga.

Poison rumours

In her supplementary question, Mazzone asked Mabuza about the poisoning rumours.

She called on Mabuza to take the House into his confidence and explain why he chose to travel to Russia for medical assistance.

“Deputy president, while you were gone, there was a lot of rumour-mongering going around, and as you know, perception in politics is everything.

“We were being told that you had been specifically poisoned by members within your own ranks. I feel like it’s time for you to be frank about this so that we can do away with these kinds of rumours,” Mazzone said.

However, National Assembly Speaker Nosiviwe Mapisa-Nqakula shot down Mazzone’s questions, saying her line of questioning was out of order as Mabuza’s medical condition was confidential.

Mapisa-Nqakula said Mabuza fully answered Mazzone’s intial question.

“Now you’re asking if he met any doctors, if you’re in hospital you’re attended to by doctors of course.

“You’re introducing a different matter and I think you’re really out of order. And please allow me to protect the deputy president,” she said.

The speaker said she would refer her ruling on the matter to Parliament’s rules committee to decide on the validity of DA’s questions.

“Honourable members, I honestly believe it is not correct to discuss health issues related to members. I think the rules committee must discuss that matter,” she said.

Mazzone said she was glad that Mabuza was doing well and his health was improving.

“May I say that I find you in good spirits and in good health, and that makes me glad because I really do wish you good health and continued good health,” she said.

Discharge of responsibilities

Meanwhile, ANC MP Terence Mpanza asked Mabuza whether he was able to discharge his responsibilities as deputy president in light of his trip to Russia.

Mabuza said he was more than capable of carrying out the demands of his job, saying he was happy so far with his health progress.

“I’m in front of the House, strong enough to discharge my duties,” he said.

“I’m sure the House has seen me on different occasions out there performing my duties as deputy president. What I can say, as a person concerned, I’m grateful for the progress that I’ve made so far with regards to my health.”

Flights, medical costs 

In September, the Presidency said Mabuza had paid for his own flights and medical costs during his trip to Russia. This was after the DA demanded answers on whether taxpayers paid for the trip.

His office said Mabuza travelled in a commercial flight that was at his own personal cost, including his medical costs. 

“The only costs incurred by the Presidency related to the private secretary who accompanied the deputy president as per requirement,” Mabuza’s spokesperson, Matshepo Seedat, said in a statement at the time.

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