Deputy President David Mabuza is still in Russia undergoing medical treatment almost a month since he requested to take a few days of leave to travel to Russia for a scheduled medical consultation.
That’s according to acting Minister in the Presidency Khumbudzo Ntshavheni, who briefed the media in Pretoria on Wednesday on government’s interventions to rebuild the economy after last week’s civil unrest.
The minister appealed to South Africans to respect Mabuza’s privacy, saying “he is doing well” and would return to the country once he has concluded his treatment.
Speculation and rumours around the deputy president’s health and absence from public life raised questions among South Africans last year during the Covid-19 pandemic. And most recently, the recent wave of violence that rocked KwaZulu-Natal and Gauteng left many puzzled about the whereabouts of the country’s second in command amid the crisis.
Ntshavheni said: “That is as far as I can report to South Africans and not infringe his person because nobody can disclose the health condition of another.
“Even yourself, as a journalist, it does not make you have a right to probe into the personal health status of any other person, irrespective of the position they hold.”
On 26 June, the Presidency said in a statement that Mabuza had requested from President Cyril Ramaphosa to take a few days of leave to travel to Russia for a scheduled medical consultation.
This was for a follow-up to his previous medical consultations in Russia, after he was allegedly poisoned during his tenure as the premier of Mpumalanga.
The media liaison in the office of the deputy president, Matshepo Seedat, said at the time that the leave would be for a week or two, depending on the advice of the medical team, starting on Monday 28 June.
“The deputy president had previously taken a similar leave in October of 2018,” Seedat said.
Mabuza’s last public engagement was on 15 June when he was responding to questions from MPs of the National Council of Provinces (NCOP) during a virtual plenary sitting.
Additional reporting by Sandisiwe Mbhele