Kariba Uhuru accident: Poor state of hospitals exposed

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Mashonaland West Provincial Affairs minister Mary Mliswa-Chikoka

BY NHAU MANGIRAZI

THE accident in Kariba last week which saw victims, who included the late Musambakaruma nurse-in-charge, Thomas Munenga offers a stark reminder of the sad state of Zimbabwe’s healthcare sector, 42 years after independence.

He was among four Kariba residents who died while 32 were injured after attending the district Independence Day celebrations in Kasvisva rural.

Munenga had spent 20 years as a nurse around Kariba rural and urban clinics.

His death became a reality check on the health sector that he had committed himself to for a long time.

Munenga died on the spot when a Zimbabwe Electricity Transmission and Distribution Company truck they were travelling in veered off the road 20km  from Kariba town.

It plunged into a ravine, leaving many with broken arms, legs and multiple fractures. Two passed away on the spot. The vehicle was allegedly speeding when the accident occurred.

A dark cloud enveloped the resort town as the injured were ferried to the district hospital and later transferred to Chinhoyi nearly 260km away.

Apparently, the transfer was necessitated by the fact that Kariba Hospital was reportedly so ill-equipped that it had no simple basics such as bandages.

‘‘The hospital had no bandages and relatives had to buy from private pharmacies. Kariba Hospital has no X-ray machine and patients had to be ferried to Chinhoyi and nine ambulances were deployed to help out. As much as health staff is committed, there are no adequate resources and as a nation this is a sad reality 42 years after independence,’’ former Kariba mayor George Masendu said.

The road accident raised questions as to why Zupco buses were not deployed to ferry people to Kasvisva when the same buses were on the day plying the Kariba-Chinhoyi route almost empty.

Masendu suggested that national events must be done locally.

‘‘We must have these celebrations at the local level as we used to do. It curbs unwarranted loss of life,’’ Masendu said.

Ironically, Sam Mawawa, a Kariba-based Zanu PF activist and human rights defender, praised President Emmerson Mnangagwa’s government for its “reaction” to the accident.

‘‘We would like to thank President Emmerson Mnangagwa, Vice-President Constantino Chiwenga and Mashonaland West  Provincial Affairs minister Mary Mliswa-Chikoka for the assistance given to our town where nine ambulances were brought to Kariba to ferry the injured to Chinhoyi Provincial Hospital.

“A Nyaminyami FM radio presenter was transferred to Mutendele-Chirundu border on the Zambian side for treatment,’’ Mawawa said.

Mawawa blamed sanctions for the ailing health sector.

‘‘Worse it is during this time when illegal sanctions imposed on our country by the Western countries has brought miserable status (sic) in our ordinary people’s medical facilities and illegal sanctions hamper smooth flowing of the ordinary poor person’s health requirements heavily,’’ he said.

Kariba-based journalist John Chirinda wrote a befitting obituary revealing that the majority of the injured were civil servants who had travelled to Kasvisva, a remote area located near Siakobvu rural outpost where Munenga spent most of his time on national duty as a nurse.

Chirinda said death had robbed the town of a young and promising generation.

‘‘Members of the ruling party and some civil servants were involved in the accident. The devil was waiting to inflict pain, horror and this unforgettable experience.

‘‘Munenga worked in most of the clinics in Kariba district including Nyamhunga, Makande, Mola, Kasvisva,  Siakobvu Hospital and was now at Msampakaruma Clinic before he passed on. A good number of civil servants have shunned our rural Kariba for a better developed place,’’ Chirinda wrote.

Zanu PF youths, Isaya Chikunichiwa Tsuro and Method Chikova were buried in Kariba last Friday while Farisai Chingwaru was buried on Saturday in Hurungwe with Mliswa-Chikoka and her deputy Marian Chombo in attendance.

It a paradox that the late Munenga passed on without testing quality healthcare, yet he did what he could diligently.

Munenga was laid to rest in his rural home in Hurungwe’s Chief Mola outback.

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