Motsoaledi was admitted to Steve Biko Academic Hospital in Pretoria on Tuesday for surgery. That institution is a flagship among SA’s public hospitals. It bears no comparison with, for example, Chris Hani-Baragwanath or Natalspuit hospitals, or scores of others where South Africans endure the tender mercies of Motsoaledi’s minions.
Within the Steve Biko Academic Hospital, Motsoaledi will have been assigned a special ward, with VIP treatment. Former Health Minister Manto Tshabala-Msimang used Johannesburg’s Charlotte Maxeke Hospital but she was booked into a private ward. Private was definitely her preference, as she showed when using a Cape Town Medi-Clinic for her shoulder operation and Johannesburg’s Donny Gordon Medical Centre for a transplant of her much abused liver.
Last month Julius Malema noted that Nelson Mandela, instead of being treated at the private Medi-Clinic Heart Hospital in Pretoria, could have gone to Bara. Yesterday Malema’s Economic Freedom Fighters said they were pleased Motsoaledi had chosen a public sector hospital. The SA Medical Association was also encouraged by Motsoaledi’s choice.
We say, given the special treatment accorded to him, Motsoaledi’s move is more symbolic than practical. When he chooses to have surgery at Bara, and spends a few nights there, we’ll join the applause.
As a matter of principle, people of high rank, especially ministers, should be obliged to submit themselves and their families to the services for which they are responsible.
Health and education are obvious examples. But what about a police minister without VIP protection, or a welfare minister standing in a pension queue, a housing minster on a waiting list, etc. Why not?