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‘Zim is losing skilled people more than countries that are at war’ – Chamisa

Opposition Citizens Coalition for Change (CCC) leader Nelson Chamisa has said the “economic crisis” in Zimbabwe is forcing skilled people to flee the country in a manner that has never been seen even in “countries that are at war”.

In a statement on Thursday, the opposition leader mentioned the recent Zimbabwe National Statistics Agency figures that estimated that close to a million Zimbabwean nationals have crossed the borders in search for greener pastures.

“By the government’s own estimates, since this regime took power, people have left the country at a higher rate than at any time in our history. The national statistics agency recently released data showing that emigration reached a peak in 2021.

“Nowhere is this exodus felt so strongly than in our critical health sector. In the 12 months to March 2020, the UK took in 1059 Zimbabweans on that country’s skilled work visa.

“By 2022, that number had increased to 5549 visas to Zimbabweans for skilled work. Put in other terms, the number of skilled workers that have left Zimbabwe to work in other countries has gone up by 424% in just two years.

“Zimbabwe is among the Top 5 recipients of these skilled visas to the UK. A country with a population of 15 million is in the same category with nations such as India – with its population of over a billion – in terms of exporting skills. We are losing skilled people more than countries that are at war,” Chamisa said.

He threw weight at sentiments by Dr Phophi Ramathuba, the South African Limpopo MEC for Health, who recently slammed President Emmerson Mnangagwa for failing to provide basic health services for Zimbabweans.

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Chamisa said his heart broke down recently after seven babies were stillborn in one night at Harare Central Hospital, “because their mothers did not get the care they needed in time.

“There is a reason why our hospitals are in this state. We know why patients are crossing the borders to seek treatment in neighbouring countries. It is because of corruption, bad governance and poor leadership under Zanu-PF misrule.”

He said: “Millions were lost in Covid-19 procurement deals, and nobody was held accountable. The political elite gets treated overseas. This is who they are; they do not care for ordinary people, like that woman in the Limpopo hospital. They care only for themselves.”

Our crisis is not just a health crisis, or an economic crisis. It is essentially a governance crisis. Nelson Mandela once said there was a ‘crisis of leadership in Zimbabwe’. The icon was right. We are facing the consequences today, and so is the entire region.”

Chamisa said, if voted into power in 2023, his government would ensure that the health care system is reformed.

“We have a plan to turn this around. We have a New Great Zimbabwe plan to build and transform Zimbabwe into a greatness.

“Zimbabwe is not poor. It is poorly led. It is simply a leadership crisis. And we will fix it. The cartels that smuggle US$1.6 billion worth of gold from our country every year will be stopped.

“We will rededicate a larger proportion of our national budget to critical social services, and away from the overpriced vanity projects designed to oil corrupt cartels. We will increase the budget for health and ramp up support to our professionals,” he said.