South Africa’s President Cyril Ramaphosa has said the country is “not a xenophobic nation”.
His remarks follows comments made by a provincial health minister to a Zimbabwean patient undergoing treatment, which were viewed as blaming foreign nationals for the country’s ailing healthcare system.
“You are killing my health system,” Dr Phophi Ramathuba was captured in a widely circulated video as saying to a patient who had been in a car accident in neighbouring Zimbabwe, but went to South Africa’s Limpopo province for treatment.
In a question and answer session in parliament, Mr Ramaphosa was asked if he agreed with the conduct of Dr Ramathuba.
The president said the health official raised an important issue on how the provision of services is affected by migration but should’ve used a different platform to raise her concerns.
Mr Ramaphosa also said the country’s home affairs department was working to address challenges brought on by migration to ensure that the rule of law was adhered to.
Meanwhile, the Zimbabwean embassy in Pretoria has contacted the South African government about the comments made by Dr Ramathuba.
The embassy said it watched the video in “shock and disbelief” and conveyed concerns with the relevant authorities.
South Africa’s foreign affairs department has said the matter is being dealt with through diplomatic channels.