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Luke-ing the Beast in the Eye: The Manyame VVIP hospital: The exclusive facility of shame that is a crude form of apartheid

By Luke Tamborinyoka

In a development that has sent the whole nation into rapt wonderment, the regime has publicly confirmed that work is almost complete for a US $270 million VVIP hospital at Manyame airbase near Harare where only the chefs will be treated.

Luke-ing the Beast in the Eye with Luke Batsirai Tamborinyoka
Luke-ing the Beast in the Eye with Luke Batsirai Tamborinyoka

Yes, they have built an exclusionary, elitist facility of shame at Manyame airbase that treats only Cabinet Ministers, service chiefs, the well-heeled and politically connected elite in the same way they created a similar exclusive Covid-19 treatment facility in Mt Pleasant for the chefs while the rest of us were left to mind our own medical business.

It further boggles the mind that the state-of-the-art hospital for the chefs is being constructed at a far much higher cost than the cost of refurbishing the national referral hospitals that serve the entire nation.

At a time the nation is dealing with a debilitating global pandemic that knows no class, tribe, region, or political party card, the regime has resorted to its usual exclusionary tactics. Over the years in the wake of massive starvation such as the current drought, partisan food distribution has been the in-thing. But the Mt Pleasant Covid-19 facility and now the Manyame airbase exclusive infirmary of shame go beyond political party partisanship. It simply alienates the poor, whatever their political party card. Even ordinary die-hard ZANU PF supporters cannot access this elitist facility that is likely to cater only for Cabinet Ministers, service chiefs and Zanu-PF Politburo members.

This is unadulterated discrimination against the poor whatever their political party, which is tragic for a party that bandied itself socialist in its founding years.

But somehow, all this is hardly surprising, considering this is the same regime that charters a plane from Dubai to fly its leader from Harare to Bulawayo at a time clinics and public hospitals do not have bandages and painkillers while our nurses are using condoms for gloves. After all, these are the same guys who looted food hampers and other forms of assistance meant for the victims of cyclone Idai.

Now those on the frontline of this pandemic have taken a backseat because government is failing to provide PPEs that include sanitizers, gloves and other basics. True to their DNA, when the Covid-19 pandemic hit the country, all the donated PPE meant for public health institutions that serve the rest of us was diverted to the morbid, exclusionary and discriminatory medical facility of shame in Mt Pleasant.

Today, there is yet another multi-million dollar exclusive facility for the chefs at Manyame airbase while the rest of us have been left to die at our ill-equipped rural clinics and public hospitals.

These exclusive medical facilities exclusively for ZANU PF chefs are a violation of Zimbabwe’s Constitution. Section 56 of the supreme law of the land explicitly states that no one should be discriminated against on the basis of class, political affiliation, economic and social status, among other factors. Discrimination is defined as the practice of according other people, directly or indirectly, a privilege that other people are not accorded. The Mt Pleasant Covid-19 facility for the chefs and the Manyame airbase exclusive medical facility for VVIPs snugly fit this definition of discrimination.

We have become a true replica of Animal Farm, where some animals are more equal than others. If you are not related to a chef , you will die either at the poorly equipped Wilkins Hospital, at Marondera Hospital, at Mpilo or at your rural clinic in Dema, Binga, Dombodema, Chipinge or Domboshava. As the well-heeled enjoy their medical privileges in Mt Pleasant or at the Manyame airbase exclusive hospital for VVIPs, the poor lot might as well resort to the nearest vapostori shrine for salvation, where madzibaba Endebhai will sing “ Chengeta Mwana Enemia ” as he exhorts the Holy Spirit to give us divine protection especially in the wake of this scourge.

Those of us who come from Domboshava will have to seek divine protection from our many mountains of religious sacrilege, including the holy shrine known as Gomo raGabhureni , situated at Pasipamire village in ward 3 in this beloved place of my birth. Only that the sacred mountain’s days are numbered as Mnangagwa’s children, the infamous fortune hunters of our time, have invaded and randomly pegged off the whole area in their selfish, avaricious pursuit of gold.

The repressive racist regime of Ian Smith was highly discriminatory. It even had the temerity to preclude black people from walking along First Street in Harare, in exactly the same manner the current regime has chosen to discriminate against the poor by shutting them out of the high privileges they are according each other at the Manyame VVIP hospital and the other exclusive facility of shame at number 92 Norfolk Road in Mt Pleasant, Harare.

It is grossly inhuman that government would choose to be so brazenly discriminatory in the wake of this pandemic, especially given that the global viral onslaught has itself chosen not to be discriminatory either on the basis of race, political party card, religion, creed or class. The regime has therefore become worse than the corona virus that has posed the same threat to everyone across class, across race and across continents.

In the end, there is no difference between Ian Smith and this inhuman and segregatory regime of Mr Mnangagwa. In the words of George Orwell’s Animal Farm: They looked from pig to man and from man to pig , and they could not tell which was which .

Indeed, between Mr Emmerson Dambudzo Mnangagwa and Mr Ian Douglas Smith, we do not see any dissimilarity!

Let it be emphatically stated here and now that there is nothing good or pro-people about about an exclusive and discriminatory facility in these trying times. There is equally nothing pleasant about this Mt Pleasant Covid-19 facility of shame. As everyone else stares the dark rictus of death, these exclusionary, elitist, anti-people and anti-poor infirmaries are nothing but a primitive and crude form of apartheid!

Once again, the regime has arrogantly stuck up its middle finger to all of us!

In the end, we can only hail our God, the ultimate leveller of human circumstance. Whether one dies at the Manyame VVIP hospital, at Nyaure clinic in Domboshava, on a reedmat in your kitchen hut, at a posh hospital in China or aboard a scotchcart on your way to an ill-equipped hospital, we are all going the same six feet down.

There is neither exclusivity nor speciality in death. For all is vanity. Ndezve pano pasi izvi .

Luke Tamborinyoka is the Deputy Secretary for Presidential Affairs in the MDC Alliance led by Advocate Nelson Chamisa. NB: This is an edited version of an earlier piece by the same author when the government opened an exclusive Covid-19 facility for Cabinet Ministers and top government officials in 2020 . Tamborinyoka can be contacted via his Facebook page or on the twitter handle @ luke_tambo.