Open letter to Professor Mavima
Dear Professor Mavima,
I applaud the initiative by the Government to support the vulnerable people from the harsh effects of the shutdown declared by Government through the ZW$200 Coronavirus grant that is to be disbursed to approximately 4 million Zimbabweans but has some questions regarding this grant which I hope you can help clarify, Professor Mavima.
From what I gather, this grant is being given from donor funds. I have also read media reports of Mayors and Council Officials claiming they were asked to provide databases of vulnerable people to receive the assistance, but Zanu PF took over and created the lists of the beneficiaries who will ultimately receive the assistance. Zanu PF as a party has been known for abuse state or donor resources in the past, and I would personally believe the allegations I have read, given that Zanu PF has been seen on authentic video footage publicly saying that members of the MDC will not receive any assistance that comes from or through Government, and nothing has been done by the President to reprimand these wayward officials.
My second point is that if this is donor money, it has to be made clear to the recipients that the assistance you are receiving has been made possible through Donor X, so that the beneficiaries can also appreciate the donors, whoever they are, for the assistance. I have read many reports of assistance that has been given, including from the United Kingdom, the United States of America, local companies and other organisations, and when such assistance is passed on to beneficiaries, they should be made aware who their benefactor is.
The tendency seems to be that some governments want themselves to be seen as the ones rescuing the people, even where a good percentage of the donated resources end up in the pockets of corrupt government officials. While they may acknowledge donations in media, to the beneficiaries they tell them support is coming from Government to give an impression that they care for the people during the trying times.
The other point I need to raise is that Government of Zimbabwe officials should be honest when they make public statements. Finance Minister Mthuli Ncube was interviewed earlier in the year saying Zimbabwe was very prepared for the Coronavirus. Really? It would be in the best interest of the world if you can tell us how prepare Zimbabwe was then or is now to fight the easily spreading the disease. We don’t want empty promises, we want action, and Professor Ncube should be arrested under the new regulations that prevent peddling of falsehoods about Corona.
Coronavirus should have been an opportunity to unite the people, as we see happening globally, not be abused by fame seeking oppressive governments who want to use crisis situations to prop up their images using falsehoods. It is plausible to note that some companies, organisations and individuals have realized the need for unity of purpose and supported the fight in various ways. Unfortunately, in some instances, well-wishers have been discouraged or blocked by agents of Government from assisting, an example being the Marondera Central MP whose offer I read was turned down as he is a member of the opposition.
Government should allow any persons to assist in the way they can in the fight against Covid-19. Unfortunately, sometimes official statements are made just to hoodwink the world into thinking that Zimbabwe is a government open to all, but practically, I have heard of people who have been frustrated when they try to help as the officials approached fear reprisals from the Zanu PF top leadership, the same who preaches openness.
In some countries, in New Zealand for an example, the leader of the opposition party heads the Parliament’s Epidemic Response Committee. Zimbabwe may want to borrow a leaf from the New Zealand arrangements as the country needs to bring every shoulder to the task. I have heard opposition leaders say Covid-19 is everyone’s business, hence I would recommend to Parliament that a Parliamentary Committee be set up comprising all the three parties. That may help bring in some new ideas in the fight against the pandemic
Professor Mavima, I hope you find a few takeaways from this post.