Cape Town - The Western Cape government has slated President Jacob Zuma for what it said was unethical conduct, accusing him of “walking straight into a clinical treatment session” while treatment was in progress.
However, the party has dismissed the claim, saying Zuma’s visit to the Hout Bay Cares Clinic on Friday “did the exact opposite and destigmatised drug users admitting they had a problem, and encouraged them to seek treatment”.
On Sunday, Western Cape Social Development MEC Albert Fritz said Zuma’s visit was unethical because the president had interrupted treatment and showed patients’ faces on television.
“This raises issues of patient confidentiality, especially in this case where people come to the centre voluntarily and don’t want to be stigmatised as drug users.”
Fritz’s spokeswoman, Melany Kühn, added: “Had this province been aware of his visit beforehand, we would have ensured that it was properly co-ordinated and did not interfere with the operations of the programmes being visited.”
Asked if staff or patients had complained about the president’s visit, she said “no”.
Last week, Zuma said the new struggle facing South Africa’s youth was against drugs, gangsterism, alcohol abuse, teenage pregnancy, truancy, mob justice, child and woman abuse, and xenophobia. These were the enemies of freedom and democracy.
He made the comments at a Youth Day celebration in Newcastle, KwaZulu-Natal, to marking the 37th anniversary of the Soweto uprising.
Last month, Zuma visited Eldorado Park in response to an exclusive in The Star on April 30.
The newspaper reported that a group of desperate Eldorado Park mothers and sisters were seeking to enlist the highest office in the land to deal with a drug epidemic that had destroyed a generation with tik, cat and nyaope.
During his visit, Zuma offered the full might of the government and promised to end the area’s drug epidemic.
He received a standing ovation at the Eldorado Park Sports Stadium when he told the crowd he would drive the anti-drug campaign in the area himself and had the crowd chanting “Zuma! Zuma!”
Other communities experiencing a drug scourge have since sought his help.
Referring to Zuma’s visit to the Cape Town clinic, Anti-Drug Alliance SA national director Quintin van Kerken said treatment sessions were confidential and “an interruption could break down the trust between patients and the centre”.
ANC provincial secretary Songezo Mjongile said the visit to the clinic was planned days before, and the party had permission from the clinic’s management.
He accused the DA and Fritz of wanting to score political points.
“I’m sure the president’s visit showed other drug users there are places where you can go to get treatment,” he said.
Zuma was in the Cape Town area as part of the Western Cape ANC’s door-to-door campaign with the party’s national leaders.
He also visited Imizamo Yethu, Hangberg and Gugulethu.
The campaign will run until next year’s national and provincial elections.