FOR the past two weeks, Zimbabweans have been gripped by the news of former president Robert Mugabe’s death and the subsequent drama that followed regarding his final burial place.
Mugabe breathed his last on September 6 at the Gleneagles Hospital in Singapore at the age of 95.
Although he was a champion of Pan Africanism and despised the West, Mugabe — for over a decade and up until his last day — was receiving medical treatment in foreign hospitals. How ironic that is!
It’s not like there are no hospitals in Zimbabwe but Mugabe totally destroyed the local health system during his 37 years in power.
After inheriting a well-equipped and competent health delivery system at independence in 1980, the Zimbabwe government, led by Mugabe, completely ran it down.
As the economy started to tank, health professionals fled to seek better fortunes in places like South Africa, the United Kingdom, Australia, New Zealand and the United Arab Emirates.
Thousands of Zimbabwean doctors and healthcare personnel are scattered all over the globe while back home, people are suffering because there is a shortage of health professionals.
There is a shortage of basic medicines while the equipment is archaic and obsolete and antiquated in most provincial and general hospitals in the country. If Mugabe was a good leader and had a true vision for a better Zimbabwe, he should have provided the platform for the development of a vibrant health system during his time in office.
The fact that he died in a foreign hospital is a great indictment on Mugabe’s legacy because it clearly shows that the man had even lost confidence in the services offered by local health institutions.
At the moment, local doctors and nurses — who had given notice of their intention to strike over poor remuneration and working conditions — have been demonstrating demanding the release of Zimbabwe Hospital Doctors Association acting-president Peter Magombeyi, who had been missing for a week but was late last night reported to have been found. Magombeyi’s disappearance had added fuel to a fire which was already raging out of control.
It’s now high time President Emmerson Mnangagwa ensures a total transformation of our health system so that Zimbabweans don’t trek to foreign lands like South Africa, India and UAE for medical treatment.
Right now, former Cabinet minister Ignatius Chombo is fighting for the release of his passport by the court so he can travel to South Africa for treatment.