Eastern Cape government condemns protesters calling Zweli Mkhize an 'uncircumcised boy'

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Health Minister Zweli Mkhize
Health Minister Zweli Mkhize
PHOTO: File, Daily Sun
  • The Eastern Cape government has strongly condemned a song by protesting health workers aimed at Health Minister Zweli Mkhize, which apparently carried a "tribalistic message". 
  • Angry community health workers in the Eastern Cape braved wintry weather to picket outside Livingstone Hospital where Mkhize was delivering a talk.
  • The strike by Nehawu members demanding permanent employment, entered its second week yesterday.

The Eastern Cape government has condemned "tribalistic and derogatory conduct", allegedly aimed at Health Minister Zweli Mkhize, by protesting health workers in Port Elizabeth when he visited the region on Tuesday.

According to the Herald, protesting community health workers sang "uyinkwenkwe uMkhize makoluswe", which translates to "Mkhize is an uncircumcised boy, he must be circumcised".

Eastern Cape government spokesperson Mvusiwekhaya Sicwetsha said: "The Eastern Cape provincial government condemns the reprehensible acts of tribalism exhibited by a group of health workers who sang derogatory songs and hurled insults meant to demean our Health Minister, Dr Zweli Mkhize, in Port Elizabeth today."

"This act of tribalism, hurling of insults at and disrespecting Dr Mkhize or any other person has no place in our society. There is no person, including the workers, who has a right to insult another person. The conduct of this group of workers is silly, unwarranted, reprehensible and has no place in our society. There is no justification for this bigotry. We call on this group of workers to stop this behaviour and to apologise to Dr Mkhize," said Sicwetsha.

The protest by Eastern Cape community health workers, entered its second week on Monday.

Most of the workers are affiliated to the National Education Health and Allied Workers Union (Nehawu).

Nehawu Eastern Cape provincial secretary Mickey Jaceni defended the workers.

He said:

I cannot answer for something I didn't witness myself. Look, there are many songs that we sing. We even sing regularly about (former head of health) Dr Mbengashe. We never isolate anyone. But what I can say is that we are striking for our community health workers to be absorbed as permanent staff. It doesn't sound like this song is related to what we are fighting for. I cannot answer for it.

The workers braved wet and cold weather and sang and danced outside Livingstone Hospital where Mkhize was addressing the media and inspecting the venue.

Mkhize was in the Eastern Cape to launch a "mass testing campaign" following the resurgence of Covid-19 in the Nelson Mandela metro and Sarah Baartman district municipality.

The mass testing campaign was one of the provincial health department's strategies to contain the spike of Covid-19, said provincial health spokesperson Judy Ngoloyi.

Nelson Mandela Bay's confirmed cases were currently at 34 024, with 1 356 deaths and 25 966 recoveries.

Sarah Baartman district recorded 10 534 positive cases, 8 456 recoveries, 299 deaths, and 1 779 active cases.

Mkhize's visit followed concerns raised by President Cyril Ramaphosa about the resurgence of Covid-19 in the Eastern Cape with specific mention made of the Nelson Mandela metro.

In July, community healthcare workers from across the Eastern Cape marched to the Eastern Cape capital Bhisho to demand permanent employment.

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