There have been mixed reactions from political parties to the announcement that Deputy President David Mabuza will seek medical treatment in Russia. The Presidency earlier announced that Mabuza will be going to Russia, for a medical consultation.
The ruling African National Congress (ANC) says there is absolutely no problem. Chief Whip Pemmy Majodina says Mabuza’s duties as leader of government business have to do with coordinating between Parliament and the Executive when Parliament is sitting.
“The leader of government business deals with matters of the executive as well as government. So, at the moment Parliament is on constituency period. Therefore, the DP (Deputy President) coordinates members of the executive to be part of the Parly programme and check the progress made. So that the DP is absent due to the sick leave, there’s no problem, there is no crisis in that,” she says.
Inkatha Freedom Party’s Narend Singh also does not believe this temporary leave of absence by Mabuza will affect the work of the leader of government business. “The IFP does not believe that leave of absence for the deputy president is going to impact on his work as leader of government business. All we can say as the IFP is that we wish the deputy president well, that his health problems are sorted out sooner rather than later.”
Who will foot the bill?
Others are, however, are unsure.
Democratic Alliance (DA) leader, John Steenhuisen, wants to know why Mabuza has to go to Russia for the treatment and who is paying for it.
“It would be simply unforgivable that in the midst of shortages of medical personnel, PPE, oxygen and lack of money for overtime to medical personnel if the African taxpayers were picking up the tab for this particular travel of the Deputy President to seek medical attention in another country,” he says.
In addition to concerns about who foots the bill, Steve Swart of the African Christian Democratic Party, would like someone appointed to act while Mabuza is away.
“Does this mean that South African medical facilities which South Africans make use of are not up to scratch? South Africa is experiencing a dramatic increase in COVID-19 infections. And it is critical at this time that the deputy president as the leader of government business in South Africa or at the very least that president Ramaphosa appoints a stand-in person from cabinet to take up the position of leader of government business,” he says.
MPs’ views in the video below:
The Deputy President has made several of these trips in the past. Former President, Jacob Zuma’s son, Duduzane, famously disclosed the details of one such visit on social media sometime in 2020.