Grim reality: You are on your own

Covid-19 is the great equaliser. For decades now, the political elites in Zimbabwe has grossly neglected the health delivery system, placing the lives of poverty-stricken Zimbabweans in grave danger.

Candid Comment Brezh Malaba
bmalaba@zimind.co.zw

As if this criminal negligence is not terrible enough, the leaders have arrogantly dismissed the repeated outcries of medical doctors who have warned that the nation faces catastrophic in public health if the government continues refusing to provide resources. The world watched in horror as Zimbabwean leaders just watched indifferently as a doctors’ strike dragged on for months. Lives were lost. The social contract was shattered, inflicting a scar on the collective conscience of this troubled republic.

Covid-19 has taught us that there is a limit to political arrogance. After refusing to invest in a decent health delivery system, our leaders are now in a fix. This disease does not respect class, wealth or political affiliation. Whether you stay in a wretched shack in Epworth or a 30-room mansion in leafy Glen Lorne, covid-19 can pay you a visit. What is worse, you cannot resort to the usual trick of flying off to Singapore or India for treatment at taxpayers’ expense. Rich or poor, powerful or puny, beautiful or ugly—we are all in this nightmare together and our fate is tied.

But they are still refusing to repent.

The shocking manner in which talented broadcaster Zororo Makamba died after being neglected by the authorities sent a chill down the spines of citizens. Everyone pondered: If government officials can treat in this manner the Makamba family, which has long-standing ties to the ruling Zanu PF, can you begin to imagine what they would do to the children of a lesser god?

An official in the corridors of power told me the government had by last week pumped ZW$22 million and US$250 000 into covid-19 response. He further claimed that the US dollars would be used to buy ventilators. The man is a respected professional and I have generally known him to be truthful. You can imagine my utter shock upon hearing that Wilkins Infectious Diseases Hospital has no working ventilator. Greedy and selfish officials do not hesitate to pamper themselves with US$350 000 luxury cars yet they do not see the urgency of buying life-saving equipment.

How cheap is the life of a Zimbabwean?

And instead of sorting out public health facilities, the elites are discussing setting up covid-19 hospitals, away from Wilkins where the povo must now come face-to-face with the grim realities of bad governance.

On Wednesday, Zanu PF’s 43-member politburo met in Harare. Interestingly, while the government has been lackadaisical in screening travellers entering Zimbabwe, there was thorough screening at party headquarters.

Chinese billionaire Jack Ma — who donated thousands of masks and other equipment to Zimbabwe this week — must have flinched upon hearing that the politburo members were proudly donning face masks, yet nurses and doctors had gone on strike in protest at the lack of protective wear. The entire spectacle was yet another stark reminder that self-preservation is the first law of Zanu PF.