Letters: Zim crisis getting worse

Zimbabweans wrapped in flags

ZIMBABWE is experiencing a situation of “negative peace” says the Episcopal Commission for “Justice and Peace” of Zimbabwe, in its commentary on the message of Pope Francis for the World Day of Peace: “No one can be saved alone. Combating COVID-19 together, embarking together the paths of peace”.

Referring to sociologist Johan Galtung, “Justice and Peace” states that “the situation in Zimbabwe can best be described as ‘negative peace’ i.e, the absence of violence, whereas the desired is a ‘positive peace’, which entails restoration of relationships, creation of social systems and resolution of conflict”.

“Our nation urgently needs a real dialogue between social and political parties,” declares Justice and Peace.

Five years after the ousting of the late former President Robert Mugabe, who ruled the country for 37 years, the situation in Zimbabwe has worsened, exacerbating the frustration of the population who hoped for a new era of democracy and economic prosperity under new leader Emmerson Mnangagwa.

According to the country’s national statistics agency, inflation has reached 268%, many times higher than when Mugabe was in power.

The percentage of citizens who have slipped into extreme poverty has almost doubled, from 30% in 2017 to 50% during the coronavirus pandemic, according to the World Bank.

Not only has the gap between rich and poor widened, but it is especially young people who are affected, to the point that we speak of a “lost generation” caught between unemployment, crime, access to drugs (with a lowering of the age at which people come into contact with drugs) and migration to other countries.

There is also an increase in mental illness due to severe economic and social hardships.

Frequent power cuts, endemic corruption and high prices for basic commodities, medicines and medical care only aggravate the situation.

Despite the rocky start to the democratic process, the “individual” sanctions imposed by the United States, United Kingdom and European Union in response to human rights abuses, policies and actions that impede democracy, the rule of law and respect for human and property rights remain in place.

Although passed against individual members of government and institutions, the sanctions have a negative impact on the national economy as most companies in the United States, Canada and Europe prefer to avoid doing business with Zimbabwean companies due to the cumbersome process of verifying links between entities and sanctioned individuals or companies.

As a result, many Zimbabwean companies have gone bankrupt or are operating at a sub-optimal level, unable to source goods and services from the European Union, Canada, Australia, the United States and the United Kingdom. - Agenzia Fides

Corruption stifling councils’ service delivery efforts

CORRUPTION leads to economic stagnation and poor foreign investments.

Makanyeza et al. (2013) discovered that corruption and lack of accountability and transparency were among the main causes of poor service delivery.

Service delivery in most towns and cities have vastly declined, while corruption has taken root.

 Harare, which was once dubbed the Sunshine City, now resembles a huge dump site as rubbish heaps go for months uncollected, while water supplies in most suburbs are erratic.

In March of 2022, the Zimbabwe Anti-Corruption Commission (Zacc) swooped on two senior Chegutu Municipality employees over a litany of corruption allegations.

The human resources manager and revenue accountant officer were arrested on charges of abuse of office, nepotism and tax evasion.

It is reported that the human resources manager flouted council’s recruitment procedures on two occasions to accommodate his relatives, on one occasion someone without the requisite qualifications and on another, he recruited more people in an effort to accommodate his friend’s daughter.

Furthermore, it is noted that since 2014, the human resources manager would doctor figures of top manager’s rentals and school fees benefits for taxing on their pay slips, thereby evading tax and prejudicing council of millions of dollars.

The case of Chegutu Municipality is just a tip of the iceberg of what really transpires in local authorities.

Corruption has a negative impact on the well-being and welfare of the general populace, as its effects include the abuse of national resources, underdevelopment, high unemployment and poor standard of service delivery.

In 2021, Zacc arrested Mutare City Council deputy mayor and 11 other councillors for unprocedural reviewing upwards their travel and subsistence allowances. - Zimbabwe Coalition for Debt and Development

Kudos to Zim for increasing TB therapy coverage

TUBERCULOSIS (TB) Preventive Therapy (TPT) is a cost-effective way of reducing the risk of TB infection progressing to TB disease.

TPT is a proven course of treatment that can prevent TB disease among those infected with TB and has been shown to reduce TB-related mortality among people living with HIV.

TPT can lower the risk of TB disease in household contacts of persons with TB, people living with HIV and other high risk groups whose immunity is compromised.

In addition, TPT can help people living with HIV live longer and healthier lives. Zimbabwe experienced a decrease in TPT coverage from 39% in 2020 to 17% in 2021.

The decrease was a result of missed opportunities in TB contact tracing which helps to identify individuals at risk of TB infection in the community, and quickly commence them on TPT.

Several people at risk of TB have missed opportunities to receive TPT, making it difficult to control TB.

As part of government’s efforts to strengthen TB contact tracing and improve TPT coverage, the Health and Child Care ministry adopted the World Health Organisation (WHO) guidelines, operational handbooks and Prevent TB application mobile app to support the uptake and scale up TPT services in Zimbabwe.

The ministry in collaboration with WHO conducted an external review meeting of programmatic management of TPT in Zimbabwe from July 5-8, 2022.

Following the review, a report was produced, and Zimbabwe developed an action plan to further strengthen the roll out of TPT.

Strengthening contact tracing was one of the key interventions revealed in increasing TPT coverage.

Henceforth, the ministry held a meeting in Mutare (July 25-29, 2022) on adapting the WHO Prevent TB Application. During this meeting, the ministry adopted the WHO Prevent TB Application to be useable in Zimbabwe.

“Treating those with TB successfully and preventing other people from developing TB remains the most important intervention in ending TB in Zimbabwe,” saidthe ministry’s national TB/HIV officer, Manners Ncube.

The ministry  with support from Jointed Hands Welfare Organisation, The Union Zimbabwe Trust (UZT) and WHO recently conducted a WHO Prevent TB Application training for the pilot districts with a high prevalence of TB, namely Gwanda and Isinza (Matabeleland South province) and Gweru (Midlands province) in Bulawayo from November 28 to December 3, 2022.

During the workshop, health workers from the three pilot districts were trained on using the WHO Prevent TB Application, including developing the roll-out and monitoring plan.

“The WHO Prevent TB Application mobile app allows registration, screening, and referral of people targeted for TB screening or TB preventive treatment. Alerts help the providers to follow up people through the preventive care pathway,” noted WHO Zimbabwe HIV and TB technical officer Mkhokheli Ngwenya.- WHO


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