By Clinton Siniwa and Tinotenda Chihope
An official statement was released by the Zimbabwe Senior Hospital Doctor’s Association (ZSHDA) describing the situation currently obtaining at Mpilo Central Hospital. Mpilo Central Hospital is one of the largest hospitals in Zimbabwe. The contents of the report are distressing. The state of affairs at the hospital is indicative of the sad state of healthcare in Zimbabwe.
The casualty departments are closed. Only extremely critical cases are being considered. The equipment required for carrying out medical procedures is in disrepair. Medical theatres are under equipped and most are non-functional. Essential drugs and medical consumables are unavailable.
The hospital wards at all of the country’s public hospitals now resemble ghost towns. It is not because the country has eradicated all forms of sickness but would be patients find no reason to be in a hospital. For many years public hospitals have been unable to provide even the most basic of medical procedures and services. The foreign currency to import drugs and equipment is in shortage.
This week 211 doctors have received notice of dismissal for participating in industrial action that has gone for over 2 months. Some of the doctors say they are not on strike but instead claim that they are incapacitated from executing their duties. The doctors claim the government is not paying them a living wage in United States dollars. They say this is in violation of their current contracts with the government.
A month ago we were told that President Mnangagwa is a charitable man. He made a generous donation to Global Fund of USD1 million to support its cause against AIDS, Tuberculosis and Malaria. President Mnangagwa’s gift has raised the ire of many in Zimbabwe because his charitable deeds have not begun at home. Many do not understand why the president would make such a significant donation abroad while public healthcare in his own backyard is in such a wretched state.
One could not argue that Mnangagwa is not aware of the state of public healthcare in Zimbabwe. The very fact that he prefers foreign hospitals shows that he lacks confidence in the local public hospitals. Attending the conference in France was not a necessity for a Head of State, more so one that has failed. The expense could have been spared and resources allocated to the Ministry of Health and Child Care.
Mnangagwa’s reasons for making the pledge were not out of his ignorance or benevolence but for political gain. The opportunity to attend a conference with other world leaders and grandstand on a global stage was an unmissable opportunity for an individual seeking acceptance.
Furthermore, making a donation of a sizeable sum at such an event gives the impression of a leader who has his house in order. Mnangagwa’s behaviour betrays an innate desire to affirm and consolidate his political legitimacy.
The authors of the ZHSDA report are bold to say the disaster unfolding is genocide and rightly they say.
One could argue that the political dismissal of trained doctors at such a point in time shows a resolve to annihilate the lives of those dependent on public healthcare. The doctors are not guilty of malpractice but are simply requesting their contractual dues.
Is it not controvertible that the diversion of millions of taxpayer dollars towards personal luxuries of ZANU PF ministers at the expense of the nation’s healthcare is purposely destroying the lives of those dependent on it? Surely the chartering of private luxury jets and purchase of Range Rovers while healthcare is broken cannot be accidental.
ZANU PF party officials and senior military officials must be indicted for genocide and crimes against humanity for the crisis in Zimbabwe. They must stand not before a tribunal in Netherlands but at Jongwe House in Harare. They must be tried in the very same building from which they orchestrated and executed crimes against Zimbabweans.
The corruption, incompetence and human rights abuses in this saga are criminal offences in violation of Zimbabwe Constitution sections: 9; 14; 29; 65 and 76.
Those who have presided over a transgenerational crisis that continues to unravel must be held accountable that justice may be done. Those in the shadows as advisors, associates and foot-soldiers of the entire ZANU PF system must also know that they too are culpable. The day shall come when they will seat before their fellow countrymen and render accounts of their commissions and omissions.
Another week has passed and many Zimbabweans scattered across the country whose deaths could have been easily avoided are now lost. Men, women and children in pain from otherwise treatable diseases, whose lives hang in the balance are the ones in need of help.
For those who have died and for those suffering today justice must be demanded.
Clinton Siniwa is a Chartered Certified Accountant. You can follow him on Twitter @ClintSiniwa
Tinotenda Chihope is a Human Rights Activist. You can follow her on Twitter @_mstinoe__