HARARE – This week Zimbabwe was plunged into mourning following the terrible accident at Jimila in Sipepa Area within Tsholotsho District, where 11 people died on the spot while 15 others passed on at Tsholotsho Hospital.
The fact that the deceased — all from Matabeleland North malaria control team — perished in such a fatal road traffic accident while being ferried to work in an overloaded government truck, is disturbing.
This tragedy could have been avoided, had it not been for gross negligence on the part of the Health ministry and as President Emmerson Mnangagwa said this week, “…we should not allow this to happen again. We should hire buses”.
While there has been effort by government and the corporate sector to raise funds to assist in the burials, it is the aftermaths of such tragedies that are painful as breadwinners are lost for good.
The corporate sector has raised $50 000, Lotteries and Gaming Industry has donated $8 400 while Local Government minister July Moyo said government had set aside $1 000 for each of the bereaved families.
Yes, this money may very well cover the funeral expenses but what about the future of those families that have lost breadwinners — where will their children get school fees, food, shelter and clothes?
Since these people died while on duty, we hope government will compensate for their loss and even keep their salaries running for a certain period to help their families recover.
Forget about the bereaved families soon after the burial would be a betrayal because this accident was not of their making and they were on official duty.
Families of the bereaved could actually sue government because how can one explain that health professions — 76 in all, together with their equipment — are carried in an open Nissan UD truck for an assignment?
In other countries, the minister responsible should have resigned over the embarrassing incident.
The Tsholotsho tragedy calls for a proper investigation into how this form of transport came to be used and who authorised it. Is it common practice within the ministry because the people of Zimbabwe and indeed the bereaved families want answers?
Reports that the driver of the UD truck is said to have been drunk makes an investigation into the accident worth pursuing to the fullest.
While the Zimbabwe Traffic Safety Council says 90 percent of road accidents are attributed to human error, allowing a drunk driver to get behind the wheel and overloading the truck with both people and goods was inhuman.