Cape Town – Finance Minister Tito Mboweni and Western Cape Health MEC Nomafrench Mbombo have been embroiled in a war of words over the minister’s comments that there were still separate sections for black and white people at Tygerberg Hospital.
In his Medium-Term Budget Policy Speech on Wednesday, Mboweni said: “The Budget facility for infrastructure will support new projects, including through blended finance in partnership with the private sector. This includes hospitals, hospital projects in KwaZulu-Natal and in the Western Cape, like the Tygerberg Hospital. By the way, this Tygerberg Hospital thing … it still has a black and white section.
“There is a section where blacks used to go and there is a section where whites used to go. Structurally it is still there, so the thing has to be removed and a completely new hospital constructed there. It’s unbelievable.”
Mbombo lashed out at Mboweni, saying his claim that Tygerberg wards were racially segregated was an “outright lie”.
“Minister Mboweni should be made to apologise for misleading the House. This ‘fake news’ has one objective in mind: to detract from the ugly truth that the national government is going to pour another R10.5 billion into the bailout of SAA.
“This multibillion-rand flight of fancy will undermine the jobs, safety and well-being of millions of South Africans, and the Western Cape government will have to help pick up the tab,” Mbombo said.
While Mboweni did not respond to several requests for comment, he tweeted: “Please do not overreact. There are still two structures there at Tygerberg Hospital. One was for blacks and the other for whites. They exist. What does not exist any longer is the segregation of patients. That is the reality.”
To which Mbombo responded: “So, what’s it got to do with DA and patients’ segregation (that) you imply in regard to structures that were built during apartheid, noting (the) DA took over from the ANC in the WC 2009? Also, central hospitals are a national competency but you neglected them and provinces are now footing the bill.”
DA chief whip Natasha Mazzone said the party would lodge a complaint against Mboweni with the Ethics Committee. “I will be expecting a full apology to the Premier of the Western Cape, to the MEC for Health in the Western Cape, but most importantly, to those at Tygerberg Hospital. Under our watch, no one gets away with lies,” she said.
Meanwhile the Democratic Nursing Organisation of SA (Denosa) has called for hospital buildings that were historically racially divided to be turned into museums to preserve the truth of the past.
Denosa president Simon Hlungwani said this was the way hospitals were designed under apartheid. “It is not run that way today because that would be illegal.
“However, the biggest mistake one would make is to think you can demolish history These buildings need to be maintained to show people how bad the system was. Turning it into a museum would be educational and bring in tourism value. In China they have done similar things, and it works.”