Dr Phophi Ramathuba an inadvertent hero for suffering oppressed Zimbabweans’ cause for justice and freedom!

For the past three days - ever since a video clip of Limpopo provincial MEC for health, Dr Phophi Ramathuba, berating, in the most degrading and humiliating fashion, an impoverished Zimbabwean lady, who had sought medical attention across the border in South Africa, at a Bela Bela hospital, went viral - her story has been trending in both countries.

Tendai Ruben Mbofana


I have already penned an article based on that most regrettable and tragic incident, entitled “Mnangagwa regime turning Zimbabweans into laughing stock of the world!” – in which, I lamented the manner the deplorable humiliation that the Emmerson Dambudzo Mnangagwa regime’s unpardonable high-level corruption, and incomprehensible incompetence in their mismanagement of Zimbabwe’s economy, had forced millions of poverty-stricken citizens (who can no longer bear their intolerable financial circumstances) to flood into such neighbouring countries as South Africa, and whose presence was clearly no longer welcome.

Quite a sizeable population of South Africans may understandably and justifiably believe that the millions of Zimbabweans scrounging for a living in their country have long since overstayed their welcome – with the resultant egregious xenophobic attacks and vitriol meted out against these hapless folks, recently through barbaric violence by the Dudula group, demands for companies to fire (or, not to employ) foreign nations, and the undoubtedly unprofessional outbursts by Ramathuba.

As much as the unconventional approach by the MEC riled and ruffle some feathers, as well as rubbed them the wrong way – considering the most unfortunate unwarranted attack on the patient, driven by sheer desperation into crossing the border into South Africa for much-needed medical attention – her act, nonetheless, finally brought under the international spotlight, albeit inadvertently, the harrowing cruel effects on the majority of Zimbabweans of the disgusting savage looting of national resources by the kleptomaniac Mnangagwa regime, plunging the nation into unimaginable poverty, with nearly every facet of our livelihoods (including the health delivery system) severely devastated.

Indeed, some in South Africa,  and even Zimbabwe, may legitimately bay for Ramathuba’s blood, and demanding her head on a platter – accusing her of wantonly violating her Hippocratic oath (affirming doctors’ obligations and proper conduct), via her haranguing of the unidentified Zimbabwean lady – for others, as myself, it was long overdue that our increasingly unbearable pain and suffering, at the hands of our country’s cold-hearted ruling elite, was given the global attention it deserved.

It is only regrettable that this had to be triggered by such a distressing incident.

Maybe, that is what is meant by, ‘every cloud has a silver lining’ – more in the frame of the harrowing and traumatizing self immolation by the Tunisian vendor, who set himself on fire and tragically died, in protest over the intolerable economic hardships he and the majority of his compatriots were enduring – igniting the so-called ‘Arab Spring’, which led to mass uprisings that toppled several authoritarian regimes across the North Africa region in 2011.

It is indeed, up to South Africans themselves to decide the fate of the Limpopo health MEC.

Nevertheless, for us in Zimbabwe – who had always found the deafening silence and inaction by the authorities across our southern border, over the deplorable state-sponsored economic and political situation, rather disconcerting and perplexing – this was, in a weird way, a most welcome ‘intervention’.

It must be remembered that the adverse effects of economic challenges in Zimbabwe are directly impacting and over-weighing the South African themselves – through millions of afflicted and beggared Zimbabweans left with no option, but to cross into the neighbouring country (in most cases illegally) in desperate search of survival and some semblance of a decent livelihood..resulting in the unrestrained rage and frustrations we now see, even from the likes of Ramathuba.

As such, why is the South African government not taking a more proactive approach against their comrades in Zimbabwe – who have callously and greedily plundered a once shining and glamorous ‘Jewel of Africa’ into an global embarrassment and shame?

Having fought side-by-side against colonial rule can never be justification enough for the ANC administration to look aside, whilst their erstwhile brothers and sisters-in-arms wantonly and barbarically disrespect and disregard the very principles and tenets for which the liberation struggles were waged in our countries.

Surely, these former revolutionary movements cannot seriously tell us that, such willful impoverishment and tormenting of the ordinary citizenry, forcing millions to flee their own countries, is what they fought for?

If not, then why are they so quiet when their fellow comrades in Zimbabwe are brutally and heinously riding roughshod over the population?

We have friends and relatives that we love – but, we would never sit back, with arms folded, and merely watch (or, even support and defend them), as they mercilessly abused their own spouses and families.

In fact, as someone I care about and genuinely love, I would sternly rebuke and chastise you – as a way of bringing you back to a life of respectability and dignity – as opposed to letting you continue on the path of causing those around you anguish and misery.

If I were to remain silent, then it would mean that I did not sincerely love you – and, possibly, actually disparaged, and even laughed at you, behind your back!

In my own personal life – whenever I have gone astray and chosen a wayward path (usually causing untold grief and pain upon those around me), those who have brought me back to my senses, were loved ones (close friends and family), who never minced their words, nor held back any punches (figuratively, of course) in condemning my thoughtless acts.

And, as someone who constantly craves to improve himself, thereby becoming a better person with each day – I am most grateful for such interventions, and find them welcome.

That explains why I also include as many contact details as feasible at the end of my articles – since, as those who have communicated with me can attest, I am always appreciative of any form of correction, criticism, and disagreement with my views – which, I consider a way of enhancing my knowledge and skills.

I am never defensive, nor find offense with those who critique or even censure my work – but, in fact, have built strong relationships and friendships with most of those, whose initial contact with me was via their dissension towards my opinions.

That is how normal people are expected to respond and react to such situations.

However, we find a rather troubling trait, and a serious cause for concern, in our southern African region – as we witness a leadership, mainly comprised of supposed liberation movements, who would not care less even when one of their own was unleashing indescribable sorrow and poverty upon his own citizens.

Who, then, did they liberate?

Or, did they only ‘liberate’ themselves, so as to be the new oppressors and colonizers?

Surely, if the ANC government in South Africa, and the regional body SADC (Southern African Development Community) cannot see anything untoward and gravely flawed with the manner the Zimbabwean regime is behaving – then, we urgently need a new breed of true revolutionaries and liberation movements.

When the concept of Pan-Africanism only means fighting, and standing up against, white and Western repression and segregation – with scant concern over the same subjugation and discrimination by a minority black ruling elite upon the black majority – then, this notion has become obsolete, and long lost its relevance in a post-colonial post-independence modern day Africa.

Now is the time for those who claim to be the voices of Africans to loudly speak up for the millions who are facing unspeakable brutality and cruelty from their own leaders.

We certainly did not need to reach such disgusting levels and shameless sights, as we horrifyingly witnessed in the past week- whereby, an undoubtedly annoyed and fed-up provincial official (lower down the rungs of the South African governance system) ended up venting her frustrations upon a helpless patient – for this matter to finally attract the well overdue attention.

I am quite convinced that, had the Pretoria administration boldly and firmly tackled this long-running crisis in Zimbabwe – instead of its leaders shamelessly denying its existence, and burying their heads in the sand, in spite of the obvious catastrophic and murderous rein of the ZANU PF regime – by now, there would have been absolutely no need for Zimbabweans to flee into their southern neighbour.

At least, for now, we had Ramathuba to thank (as regrettable as the circumstances were) for bringing to the fore the insufferable plight of Zimbabweans – and, hope the furore surrounding this debacle will signal the beginning of genuine concerted efforts by the southern African community, and South Africa in particular, in confronting the Zimbabwe authorities, on their insatiable greed for both looting and power, which has ruined the lives and livelihoods of ordinary citizens.

  • Tendai Ruben Mbofana is a social justice activist, writer, researcher, and social commentator. Please feel free to contact him on WhatsApp/Call: +263715667700 / +263782283975, or Calls Only: +263788897936, or email: [email protected]

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