THIS week, Zimbabwe lost two prominent people of diverse backgrounds to the vagaries of mortality. Socialite Genius Kadungure, popularly known as Ginimbi, died in a car accident on Sunday morning.
On Monday, Zimbabwe was to wake up to news of the death of popular comedian Lazarus Boora.
Gringo, as he was more famously known, succumbed to stomach cancer from which he had suffered for a while. He was much more than the man who brought the television character
Gringo to life and brought laughter to thousands of households who had the privilege to watch him in his prime.
The weekly episodes of the drama were unmissable.
But Ginimbi and Gringo could not have been more different: Kadungure died when he apparently tried to overtake two cars with his Rolls-Royce Wraith, which cost US$350 000 while driving to his home in Domboshava in the company of his friends Michelle Amuli, also known as Mimi Moana and two other acquaintances. They were coming from Moana’s 26th birthday party.
Gringo, on the other hand, suffered a relapse after failing to raise money for medication and had to rely on the generosity of a number of Zimbabweans who were touched by his plight.
It should not be like this for someone whose mention still elicits laughter and smiles.
Sadly, the same is true for many of our artistes. The list is long: Safirio Madzikatire, James Chimombe, John Chibadura, Daiton Somanje, System Tazvida and Philip “Paraffin” Gadzikwa Mushangwe among others that kept us royally entertained but just could not keep up with the cost of daily living and the bills that come with it.
These artistes need to come up with a plan that carters for their health needs in times of need.
Their plight is also representative of the dilemma many Zimbabweans find themselves in. While these prominent names are easily recognisable and are able to elicit public sympathy, the same is not true for the millions who suffer and die in silence because there is no one to trumpet their causes or cases.
According to latest estimates, less than 10% of the country’s population is covered by medical aid. That means the majority of people in the country have no access to healthcare or are in danger of failing to access medical facilities because of prohibitive costs.
In an economy that is highly informalised, this means a pandemic could simply wipe out the millions who are unable to afford medical costs.
It is time we rethink our health provision model to include the poor in our country, and to make primary health services more affordable.
While government policy is to provide free healthcare for pregnant and lactating mothers, children under five and those aged 60 years and above, this has become difficult to implement due to lack of investment in the public health system.