Deputy President David Mabuza has responded to the criticism he received after visiting doctors in Russia, with most asking if he did not have confidence in his own country’s facilities.
Speaking on Sunday during his election campaign in Mpumalanga, the deputy president said he only went to doctors in Russia because they understood his condition. According to him, the Russians know how to treat poisoned people.
He told Sowetan: “They’ve got medical history of my illness, so it’s only appropriate to go to people who know what went wrong with my body.
“This does not mean that I don’t have confidence in our facilities.”
Mabuza said it was his fourth visit to the country for treatment since he was poisoned at his birthday party in 2015.
He further told the publication that he paid for his own trip.
Mabuza’s trip to Russia raised alarm in official circles last week.
The fact that Mabuza could apparently not find reliable follow-up treatment in South Africa had government insiders worried.
Speculation was rife that President Cyril Ramaphosa did not know what Mabuza was doing and that the deputy president had been feeling far worse than he may have liked to admit.
Ramaphosa’s office confirmed that Mabuza asked the president for time “to rest”, but they referred all questions about the deputy president’s movements back to Mabuza’s spokesperson.
Despite Mabuza officially having been on “sick leave”, his spokesperson, Thami Ngwenya, told the Sunday Times he was never actually ill at all.
Ngwenya further refused to tell the Sunday Times who had funded Mabuza’s trip and the possible treatment costs, answering only in general terms about how former and current heads of state had their costs covered by the state.