It needed a crisis, a death, for the Zanu PF leadership and the rich to show their true colours beyond the political rhetoric at rallies and media conferences.
Less than two years ago, during the 2018 polls electioneering, President Emmerson Mnangagwa not only traversed the length and breadth of the country on a campaign trail but also put up gigantic billboards across all major roads and towns extolling his promises. Promises of a better Zimbabwe.
His sign off was something biblical, a promise to servant leadership but more importantly that – the voice of the people was the voice of God.
Mnangagwa promised modern roads, adequate electricity supplies, revitalising the comatose industry and affordable, quality healthcare. These promises were grandiose.
They dared people to dream, particularly that he had promised — the voice of the people was the voice of God. Two years on, life has conspired to put Mnangagwa’s promises to test and he has woefully fallen short. He is out of depth. And the self-preservation mode has kicked-in. It is now about him and his cronies. The people have no voice so God is not there or the people have a voice, but they are screaming hoarse to a man who is seemingly deaf.
This month, the World Health Organisation declared the coronavirus (COVID-19) a pandemic. The virus was first noticed in China in December 2019 and within three months had spread across the world with devastating effect in the northern hemisphere that is currently in winter.
The bug has shown to have no respect for social status — celebrities, prime ministers, ministers, sports superstars and the plebians have all fallen victim to the virus. Stockmarkets have tumbled across the world capitals forcing governments to offer bailouts to struggling companies. The United States Congress this week approved a US$2 trillion bailout to companies and vulnerable citizens.
Most world leaders and experts have called for self-isolation, social distancing and in extreme circumstances lockdowns of entire cities, regions or countries. Mnangagwa has mimicked these measures but he and his ministers have not taken heed of the advice. Mnangagwa flies into affected countries, still holds Cabinet meetings and Zanu PF politburo indabas. He does not self-isolate, neither does does his Finance minister Mthuli Ncube who has travelled to Europe (now the epicentre of the pandemic). Mnangagwa and Mthuli are not ordinary people and will not subject themselves to rules and regulations set for the common men and women.
It needed Zororo Makamba to die for the leadership to take action. Zororo was a broadcaster and son of businessman and Zanu PF apparatchik James Makamba. He died at the national coronavirus institution — the Harare City Council-owned Wilkins Infectious Hospital. His family made a fuss of the incident.
We now know they had direct access to Mnangagwa, First Lady Auxillia and Health minister Obadiah Moyo, but this did not change their circumstances.
The regime was jolted into action. It was reminded that social status was no barrier to the coronavirus. Within 48 hours of Zororo’s death, government had found a solution to save rich, influential coronavirus victims – immediately opening long-forgotten private clinics. St Annes and Rock Foundation Medical Centre have new leases of life — all funded by Kuda Tagwirei, the fuel mogul and Command Agriculture financier. Wait for it, like all his deals in the past there was no tendering.
These two would be private coronavirus treatment centres – it goes without saying that patients will be forking out greenbacks to access care and treatment. On Thursday, less than 24 hours after the process of licensing the medical facilities the Reserve Bank of Zimbabwe issued a statement that service providers can receive payment in United States dollars; a reversal of the mono-currency regulations and this would be applicable until the pandemic is put under control.
It needs no rocket science to see that the rich who have in relatively good times got forex from the central bank at 1:1 are set to benefit again having the rate fixed at 1:25 even if the parallel market is hovering around 45. The rich and political elite will have their five-star medical centres and pay in scarce forex while the poor will have to contend with treatment and care from Wilkins that has been condemned as near useless after Zororo’s death.
Cutting the political bullshit, one can see that beyond the rhetoric and political correctness — in good and bad times the regime wants to be treated differently.
They are worthier in measure than the plebians even if it’s the common men and women who elect them into power.
For now, the citizens are aware that electioneering is a well choreographed act. There is and will not be any guaranteed affordable, quality healthcare and the people’s voice is definately not the voice of God.
They eat for us and we die for them. Finish and klaar.
Paidamoyo Muzulu is a journalist and writes here in his personal capacity.