‘I am Tintswalo,’ says Motsoaledi on rural healthcare

Minister of Health Dr Aaron Motsoaledi said he was a Tintswalo. Picture: Siyabulela Duda / GCIS

Minister of Health Dr Aaron Motsoaledi said he was a Tintswalo. Picture: Siyabulela Duda / GCIS

Published Feb 15, 2024


Minister of Home Affairs Dr Aaron Motsoaledi has explained how his medical career changed for the better and he became a Tintswalo when the ANC swept into power in 1994 and it installed electricity in his town and allowed him to do his job properly.

Motsoaledi said villages and small towns benefited from the rollout of electricity and running water in Sekhukhune when the ANC got into government.

He said in the 1980s he worked in a rural hospital in Limpopo and he was the only doctor in that hospital, But today the same hospital employs 50 doctors.

This was the Tintswalo moment for the patients at St Rita’s Hospital in Sekhukhune.

Motsoaledi said when he opened his medical practice in Limpopo, his surgery had no electricity and running water, but his Tintswalo moment came when the ANC installed electricity and running water in the area.

“I, Mr President, even at my age, even already being a medical practitioner became one of your Tintswalos. The place where I opened my medical practice had no electricity, no running water and no system to connect to. One had to improvise with drums, lanterns and candles for lighting. My Tintswalo moment came when the ANC rolled out electricity to rural villages and started rolling out programmes of clean running water,” said Motsoaledi.

This was not the end of the story because communities in nearby villages benefited a great deal.

“We are talking here the whole population changed. A programme that changed the whole population. Even whole communities had their Tintswalo moment. The Minister of Health, Dr Joe Phaahla, announced here (on Tuesday) that modern medical equipment was delivered at St Rita’s Hospital, This hospital is in Sekhukhune. On Christmas Day in 1986 I was in theatre in that hospital performing a Caesarean section alone.

“I was my own surgeon, my own anaesthetist and my own assistant surgeon. For, I was the only doctor working in the whole hospital. Performing such a procedure was expressly forbidden by medical council, but we had to choose between obeying the rules and letting a mother and baby die. Breaking such rules, in our desire to save lives, became days of our lives.

“Mr President, today, apart from the equipment Dr Phaahla mentioned, St Rita’s has got 50 full-time doctors from one. That is their Tintswalo moment. And, we can’t hide this history,” said Motsoaledi.

He said the dawn of democracy allowed many communities to have access to basic services.

In rural villages of Limpopo and patients at St Rita’s Hospital have medical care and dozens of doctors.

This was their Tintswalo moment.

Motsoaledi said it was wrong to accuse the ANC of failing to deliver services in communities, when the lives of the people of Sekhukhune and other communities changed when they started getting clean water.