While wishing him a speedy recovery, the Democratic Alliance (DA) has condemned North West Premier Bushy Maape’s trip to Thailand to seek medical treatment, saying it indicated that he had “no confidence” in the provincial healthcare system.
The party said it was concerning that Maape would seek medical treatment abroad instead of accessing medical facilities in the province.
“The fact that Premier Maape would rather seek treatment abroad indicates his vote of no confidence in the provincial public health system he presides over,” the party said in a statement.
This comes after the provincial government announced on Monday that Maape will be going abroad for medical treatment from January 21 to 31. According to his office, he was advised and referred by his doctor for further treatment.
Reports claim that the premier had taken sick leave of over three months last year due to illness after a series of health problems.
Responding to the allegations, African National Congress (ANC) spokesperson in the province, Tumelo Maruping clarified that the premier going to a specialist did not indicate “a vote of no confidence” on the healthcare services in the province.
He said it was unfair of opposition parties to say Maape lacked confidence on the local health system. He stated that he was not funded by the state.
Maruping said they will not remove Maape from office, as they still had confidence in his leadership.
“We still have confidence in Maape, he is going to finish his term. We don’t have any discussion in the ANC of removing and replacing a premier in the North West,” Maruping said.
Maape's spokesperson, Sello Tatai also confirmed that the premier was using his funds for the medical trip abroad and not state money.
"No state money has been used for this exercise and the premier is funding this trip from his own pocket," Tatai said.
He further mentioned that Maape had been receiving medical treatment in the country, particularly the North West.
For the moment, he appointed the MEC for Cooperative Governance, Human Settlements, and Traditional Affairs, Nono Maloyi, as acting premier.
The DA caucus leader in the North West Legislature, Freddy Sonakile, expressed disappointment at the decision by the premier.
“We have long indicated that public hospitals in the province are in a bad state, suffering chronic medicine, equipment, and staff shortages,” he said.
According to Sonakile, the ANC-led government has established a trend to seek medical assistance abroad, while tens of thousands of South Africans were struggling to access quality public healthcare services in local hospitals.
“Millions of South Africans struggle to access quality medical treatment in ANC-managed public hospitals and do not have the means, like Premier Maape, to jump on a taxpayer-funded medical tourism jaunt to exotic locations,” he said.
He asserted that this was but a preview of the disaster that would unfold should the ANC continue to push for the implementation of the National Health Insurance Scheme (NHI).
He urged residents to take advantage of this incident for their medical wellbeing and reconsider their vote ahead of the 2024 elections.