Deputy President David Mabuza’s decision to seek medical help in Russia is a “very serious indictment” on African leaders who travel outside the continent for medical assistance.
That is the view of political analyst Professor Lesiba Teffo, who says Mabuza’s visit to Russia for over a month now does not instill confidence among South Africans about the country’s healthcare system.
“Instead of investing and maintaining the infrastructure in their own countries, they go out of their way not to do that and sometimes to serve their own interests, knowing that they can use state resources to go and seek that kind of medical help elsewhere,” Teffo told The Citizen on Tuesday.
“It’s historical [and] not peculiar to Mabuza. In fact, it’s almost synonymous with African leaders that when they have resources, they will take their children to school elsewhere.”
It has been over a month since Mabuza travelled to Russia for medical treatment, with his office on Monday reportedly saying he would return to South Africa once his medical team cleared him to do so.
Communication from Presidency
Teffo said the Presidency had not been doing a good job in informing the nation about Mabuza’s condition and visit to Russia.
“I think there are challenges that have to be worked on and I don’t think they’re representing themselves well so far in terms of communicating crucial matters. But generally, I wouldn’t say the messaging is not good,” he said.
He said he did not think the statements from Mabuza’s office about his whereabouts were sufficient, given his role as the leader of government business and the chairperson of the inter-ministerial committee on vaccines, among his numerous roles in government.
“I don’t think the communication department in the Presidency is going a particularly good job. Maybe for good reason sometimes he [Mabuza] even takes over and communicates crucial matters by himself. We have seen that happen especially after ANC meetings he would come out and present matters, where else in the past it would be the secretary-general,” he said.
Mabuza ‘is doing well’
Last month, acting Minister in the Presidency Khumbudzo Ntshavheni said Mabuza was still in Russia undergoing medical treatment after he requested to take “a few days” of leave starting on Monday 28 June.
This was for a follow-up to his previous medical consultations in Russia, after Mabuza was allegedly poisoned during his tenure as the premier of Mpumalanga.
Since then, speculation has been rife on social media among South Africans about the deputy president’s whereabouts, following the deadly civil unrest that gripped parts of Gauteng and KwaZulu-Natal in July.
The Democratic Alliance (DA) last week said it would write to the office of the deputy speaker of Parliament, Lechesa Tsenoli, to request that he seeks a full report about the deputy president’s whereabouts.
The party wants to know the cost of Mabuza’s extended stay in Russia, whether the taxpayer is footing the bill, when he plans to return to the country as well as who is filling his shoes in his absence.
Attempts to get comment from Mabuza’s spokesperson Matshepo Seedat were unsuccessful.