CROSS continental medical errands for the former First Family are not a justifiable cost to the taxpayer.
Cyprian M Ndawana
They must be stopped immediately.
As I see it, if deposed former President Robert Mugabe was well and truly a nationalist, one who puts nation ahead of self, he would decline the practice.
It is apparent, even at face value, that the government’s motive of facilitating the travels does not stem from the inherent duty to care for fellow humans.
The notion that the travels are within the confines of his retirement package warrant scorn and ridicule on its proponents.
He does not deserve not only the Singapore medical package, but the naming of the airport and roads after him.
If truth were to be told, he is anathema to democracy, whose removal from power necessitated military intervention and the roll out of Operation Restore Legacy.
There is no probity in endorsing such lofty benefits, given that the country is saddled with debts and faltering in its repayment obligations to international financiers.
If he insists on accepting such a package, he deprives himself of the heart and spirit of the liberation ideals.
With the unemployment rate standing at a towering 76%, it is impractical for the few employed who are laden with a high dependence ratio, to be expected to fund such a cost. Already, the corporate tax base is drastically shallow due to massive company closures.
However, there is more to it than simply human spiritedness that an aircraft was once again chartered for them.
Whichever way one may look at it, it does not make economic sense to repeatedly charter flights yet scheduled ones are aplenty.
In fact, it is time the former First Family stopped being medical tourists.
With all due respect, why must they shun the local health delivery system to the extent that their daughter had to give birth abroad in spite of a galaxy of local gynaecologists.
Who then is supposed to demonstrate patriotism by championing the localisation concept, if not them?
It amounts to preaching double standards when, on one hand we proclaim that Zimbabwe is open for business, yet on the other, our leaders traverse far afield in search of services.
If leaders cannot lead from the front, the vision gets blurred and distorted as followers will be prone to manipulation.
If the Mugabes had a skin over their face, they could be embarrassed to be so lavishly pampered while the citizenry are wallowing in grinding poverty.
After all, it was their untoward policies which resulted in the prevailing socio-economic dire straits.
They do not deserve a beefy gratuity because they are the very ones who killed the goose that used to lay the golden egg.
At the turn of the century, the government had millennium development goals (MDG), as its mantra. Yet, it was all clouds and thunder but no rain.
“Health for all by the 2000”, was one of the mantras.
Yet, it culminated in such debacles as the recent failure to respond decisively to the cholera outbreak.
It is ironic that the leadership behind the mantra is now conspicuous by its clamour for medical trips beyond our borders.
With the generality of citizenry now living on a morsel — scantly a mouthful of food — the least the former First Family ought to do is to be remorseful for the grinding poverty they wrought.
They should be wrestling with their conscience over the prevailing want and deprivation.
Yet, they unashamedly pride themselves as deserving recipients of what Grace described as the kindheartedness of President Emmerson Mnangagwa.
Speaking during the funeral of her mother, she was aglow, celebrating the spirit of camaraderie between Mnangagwa and the former First Family.
Ever since the military intervention last November that deposed Mugabe, Grace has predominantly been off the spotlight.
She stepped to the fore waxing lyrically with accolades for Mnangagwa, grateful for his chartering an aircraft for her.
Despite the reason initially given that the trips are his retirement benefits, it is disheartening that Mugabe continues to drain State resources.
It appears as though the government has a covert obligation to him, which makes it pliable in spite of overly depleted coffers.
As I see it, the rational for the said new dispensation to act quicker than a flash to the whims of Mugabe is in fact hidden in plain sight for all and sundry.
It is imperative to recognise that his tenure culminated in a moneyed ruling clique which is snug as a bug in a rag.
It is my fervent submission that they owe it to him that they are deep pocketed, hence their zeal to pay homage to him.
Although they eventually militarily ousted him from the throne, they are forever grateful for his enabling them to line up their pockets uninterruptedly.
One of the defining traits of Mugabe was his knack for turning a blind eye on corruption.
He patented his subordinates to indulge in underhand deals.
Their hands were unfettered to enhance them to harvest with abandon where they never sown.
Throughout his nearly four decades-long rule, Mugabe paid lip service to corruption.
Although he was wide awake to the reality that it was rapidly spreading, headed to epidemic proportions, he did not put his foot down.
He looked the other side amid the amassing of fortunes by his rank and file.
Lyrics to the song, Corruption, by Thomas Mapfumo did not awaken his conscience.
If Mugabe had stepped his foot hard in the wake of the Willowvale Motor Industry and the Grain Marketing Board maize delivery scandals, the country could be a formidable economic power.
Strangely, he actually wore kids gloves, hence corruption became an epidemic.
Now, elections are virtually an exhibition of corruption in which even State institutions chaired by a High Court judge are not just, and the judiciary is not judicious.
As I see it, permeation of corruption under his watch was the price Mugabe paid for wadding off challenges to his hold on power.
Little wonder, of all the cadres who stood before the party disciplinary committee, none was summoned to answer to corruption charges.
He assured himself of loyalty by inaction towards corruption.
When news broke out that State enterprise executives had awarded themselves hefty remuneration pages, citizenry expected Mugabe to come down guns blazing on perpetrators. But, he barked without biting.
the initial hype and threats that heads were destined to roll fizzled out like a hoopla.
Even immediate past Health and Child Care minister, David Parirenyatwa who pocketed money from the civil service medical aid society, got away unscathed.
There was a period when Zanu PF talked about the leadership code, a process which was meant to foster honesty and integrity within the party.
Despite its noble intentions, whereby all in leadership positions would declare their wealth, the procedure died a crib death.
As citizenry resort to tightening belts, his former cadres live in opulent comfort.
They have an embarrassment of riches contrary to the dire destitution of the man in the street.
It is for his tacit consent to corruption which motivates the new dispensation to tithe to Mugabe.