Limpopo’s first female premier, Dr Phophi Ramathuba, who was sworn in last Friday. Photo: Elmon Tshikhudo.

'Lady doctor' from Mashamba Limpopo's first female premier

Date: 21 June 2024 By: Elmon Tshikhudo

Following the election of Dr Phophi Constance Ramathuba as Limpopo’s first female premier, congratulatory messages have been pouring in, especially from her hometown deep in the heart of Vhembe. Ramathuba was elected premier during a sitting of the seventh Limpopo Legislature in Lebowakgomo on Friday, 14 June. She becomes the fifth premier, taking over from Stan Chupu Mathabatha, who served two terms.

Her election has been hailed as a significant milestone in the province as Limpopo has never had a woman as premier since the dawn of democracy 30 years ago. While some have criticised her election to the highest office in the province, her home base in Vhembe is elated, with congratulatory messages coming from various quarters.

The first to send messages of congratulations was the Vhavenda Kingdom through its spokesperson, Thovhele Nthumeni Masia, who said her election signalled an acknowledgment of her capacity to lead and reflected an appreciation of gender and diversity imperatives in the province. “It is our view that these imperatives will become a hallmark of her administration as she advances the course of reversing backwardness, under-development, and poverty,” he said.

The Dr Tshenuwani Farisani Foundation also hailed her election. The foundation’s patron, Dr Tshenuwani Farisani, who serves with her in the South African Communist Party, urged the new premier to double the energy she displayed while serving as MEC for Health. “As a foundation, we will support her when she fights corruption head-on, when she respects and delivers services to the poor masses who do not have water, electricity, houses, roads, and other services,” he said.

Dr Ramathuba was born in 1973 in Mashamba village, not far from Thohoyandou. She matriculated at Mbilwi Secondary School and studied medicine at the Sefako Makgatho Health Sciences University (formerly MEDUNSA), where she obtained a bachelor of medicine and a bachelor of surgery degree. A member of the African National Congress, she was sworn into the provincial legislature in May 2015 and was appointed Health MEC by premier Stan Mathabatha. Ramathuba served as the Limpopo MEC for Health from May 2015 to June 2024, when she was elected premier.



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Elmon Tshikhudo

Elmon Tshikhudo started off as a photographer. He developed an interest in writing and started submitting articles to local as well as national publications. He became part of the Limpopo Mirror family in 2005 and was a permanent part of the news team until 2019. He currently writes on a freelance basis, covering human rights issues, court news and entertainment.


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