IN the run-up to the July 30 elections, Zanu PF leader President Emmerson Mnangagwa promised that he would be a listening President and that his government was going to guarantee an affordable, but vibrant health care system.
Chapter 4, subsection 75 of the country’s Constitution states that every citizen and permanent resident has a right to access basic health care services. But thousands of people who have been admitted to some of the country’s public hospitals and referral centres have been stripped of that right following the decision by junior doctors to embark on industrial action.
The doctors are unhappy with their working conditions and remuneration. It is sad that the issue of doctor’s conditions of service and remuneration has been long-running, and government has not gone beyond lip service in attending to the issue. The fact that the government would rather buy luxury vehicles worth of hundreds of thousands of dollars for traditional leaders demonstrates that its priorities are all mixed up.
Early this week, Mnangagwa pledged to turn around the welfare of traditional chiefs by piling benefits and a share of the $310 million set aside for devolution in the 2019 National Budget after the chiefs had presented a long list of demands at the National Chiefs Council conference in Kadoma.
If truth be told, these traditional leaders who only serve the purpose of perpetuating Zanu PF’s stranglehold on power should not be a priority given the challenges facing this economy and the scarcity of resources.
It would make more sense to prioritise the needs of healthcare workers, who are tasked with the huge responsibility of ensuring the population’s health, than to continuously pamper praise singers who do not bring any value to national development.
Vice-President Constantino Chiwenga — who ill-advisedly fired hundreds of nurses for embarking on a national strike while the President was out of the country — stressed that chiefs want to make sure that their subjects toed the line by furthering government policies and vision as some form of payback.
If it was a shared vision, then it should surely include prioritising the health sector, which probably has a more critical role to play in society.
This issue needs to be addressed once and for all if Zimbabweans are to enjoy their full rights to health.
It is shocking that government would prioritise luxury cars for chiefs while citizens who use the public health institutions struggle to access health care.
The situation in our public health facilities is so untenable that one wonders how our political leaders are able to sleep peacefully at night — perhaps because they and their families access health service abroad where healthcare workers are well taken care of by their own governments and have no need to embark on job action.