By Matthew Takaona
Sometimes when you speak up to our Government, it is like you are speaking to a rock.
The Covid-19 pandemic has now fully set in and the results of our response as a nation; good or bad, precise, ill-thought, incompetent, carefree, casual, irresponsible, contemptuous or arrogant are here for everyone to see.
The chickens have come home to roost. What we sow yesterday we harvest today.
The death rate has jumped from between 1 and 2 in a week in April last year to a shocking 34 deaths a day as of January 5, 2021. New cases reported over 24 hours have jumped from an average five in the same period in 2020 to 1 365 in a day. The recovery rate of patients has slumped to 69%. The situation is not getting any better.
Nine months ago, it was us who were scared of British travelers arriving at our airports, this week it is the British Government that has banned Zimbabweans from entering the UK. The USA Government has sent an alert to its citizens against visiting Zimbabwe.
Hospital facilities are overwhelmed, stretched beyond limit and patients are left to die.
The argument is not that we could have completely avoided this situation. We couldn’t but at least we could have drastically reduced the impact. The pandemic hit China, Italy, the UK, USA and South Africa three to six months ahead of us and we had a God-given opportunity to observe, learn the trends and put in place our own local programmes that are in sync with our meagre resources and our situation.
The truth is we learned little from those countries. If we learnt anything then we chose to ignore.
This is not hyperbolic but like Donald Trump we ignored advice from experts and stakeholders, we have been arrogant, lax, untroubled, carefree, laissez-faire in the face of one of the worst pandemics to hit humankind. We therefore have no one to blame when the pandemic takes its toll in the form and scale that it has begun to.
Political expedience and ego took precedence over national health.
The worst culprits are found in Government including President Mnangagwa who set the wrong tone, send the wrong signals and messages throughout the perilous period. Mnangagwa was not tough with his party faithfuls, himself and his men and women. It is proved that these are not bound by Covid-19 regulations.
In March last year, Mnangagwa did well to put the country on lockdowns but contrary to that bold and inevitable move and in breach of WHO guidelines, Mnangagwa and most Zanu PF MPs continued to gather people at political rallies where supporters had no masks, sanitisers or observed social distance.
This irked journalists, labour, health experts, teachers’ unions and the general public who demanded and appealed for a stop to this genocidal behaviour. Stakeholders found themselves talking to a rock; Government neither stopped the rallies nor arrested the culprits who organised the rallies. Instead the gatherings increased and became a norm as hapless activists eventually gave up.
As recent as two weeks ago Mnangagwa gave MDC T the green light to hold a congress in a hotel room in Harare that was attended by over 1 000 delegates. The spread of the virus in such an environment is exponential.
This kind of insincerity created the biggest Covid-19 confusion in the country. Is Covid-19 real or it is just a Western problem? Does the President and his Zanu PF coterie know something about the pandemic which the rest of us and the world doesn’t know? Does Government have an ace card up its sleeves against this pandemic?
Matters were not made any better by Oppa Muchinguri Kashiri, a member of the ruling party’s presidium who said that Covid-19 was created by God to punish the USA for its sanctions on Zimbabwe.
An equally senior Cabinet Minister, Monica Mutsvangwa who is the face of Government as she is its chief spokesperson also had the temerity to throw a party for her husband attended by hordes of people in the face of the pandemic.
As is the norm in Zimbabwe, nothing happened to Mutsvangwa as is the case with all other offenders from the upper class. These genocidal offences count for nothing when committed by members of the ruling elite.
People take cue from their leaders.
Citizens became confused by these double standards; they obviously started to embrace social media theories that the Covid-19 virus does not kill black people and that hot climate areas like Zimbabwe made the virus impotent. People including educated Government workers became lax and stopped reporting border jumpers and other illegal returnees from South Africa. The borders became extremely porous particularly as from September last year. Zimbabweans returned in hordes from neighboring countries to attend funerals and family functions hassle-free. They had no Covid test certificates or if they had, they were fake. The trickle of visitors became a flood towards the end of the year and at Christmas. All WHO regulations were thrown to the wind.
By this time the more lethal second wave of Covid19 (variant strain B.1.1.7) was starting to wreak havoc and South Africa was and remains an epicenter. The implication of this scenario on Zimbabwe needs no emphasis.
If Government impunity has been a problem to the country’s campaign against Covid-19 then incompetence, complacency and corruption are the other big brothers.
Teachers and their labour unions have long warned against opening of schools without the necessary protective clothing. Government snubbed them to the extent of threatening to fire them. This was a clear action of political convenience. A number of school heads lost their lives just in the one month that the schools were fully opened.
Realising the fatal error, Government suspended the opening of schools indefinitely from January 4, 2021 but the damage is already done. Thousands of school children and their teachers were infected and they are spreading the virus wherever they are.
Newsday reports that there are 50 school heads who have so far tested positive.
The situation is a big disaster in clinics and hospitals where in some cases 70% of the staff are reported to have tested positive. This is because health workers are being forced to work without protective clothing. There have been allegations of massive corruption in the procurement of protective clothing and this sucked in names of some of the most powerful men in the land.
District, provincial and national Covid taskforces are another museum of Government incompetence. By the end of December 2020, most taskforces had stopped holding meetings on Covid. The public no longer received the necessary updates and the nation had to depend on social media for information. A pandemic can only be overcome by a well-informed citizenry.
In another scenario, Nelson Chamisa, the MDC A president recently lambasted Government for selective application of Covid rules. He said there were rules for the rich and rules for the poor. Allowing the rich to breach Covid regulations without facing the law was one of the major setbacks in the war against Covid, concluded Chamisa.
The rich have been holding parties and meetings without prospects for prosecution. The airports are open for them to travel abroad and back without hindrance. Nowhere in the World is such kind of impunity allowed; only in Zimbabwe.
People who held bashes in the midst of the pandemic include business tycoon Kudakwashe Tagwirei, socialite Genius ‘Ginimbi’ Kadengure who held parties at his night club in Borrowdale in Harare and the famous birthday party of Minister Mutsvangwa’s husband. All these top figures were not touched or questioned by the Police.
Meanwhile DJ Fantan and Levels from the poor suburb of Mbare in Harare have started serving six-month jail terms for staging a show in their ghetto suburb on the same day that Tagwirei hosted his party.
This is part of the scenario that has brought us where we are; one of the epicenters of Covid-19 in the world.
Performance in the fight against Covid-19 has generally been used worldwide to measure Government competencies in running the affairs of a country ie; in the USA and in China.
Our Government’s performance in the fight against Covid is a microcosm for all other areas of governance.
How do you rate our own Zanu PF Government and for how long will Zimbabweans continue to pay for the sins of its leadership? https://masvingomirror.com