Charamba defends Mugabe’s foreign medical trips

via Charamba defends Mugabe’s foreign medical trips – NewsDay Zimbabwe March 30, 2015

THE First Lady Grace Mugabe was last week flown to Dubai for treatment of an ailment suspected to be colon cancer.
In January, she underwent surgery in Singapore, a place President Robert Mugabe is also a regular health tourist.

Critics have condemned the First Family for failing to use local hospitals after allegedly running down the country’s own health system.’s chief reporter Nkosana Dlamini (ND) on Saturday rang up Presidential spokesperson George Charamba (GC) to seek his comment.

Below is a transcript of the interview.

ND: Mr Charamba, the First Lady has flown to Dubai on a medically-induced trip.
This is over and above what is now a routine visit to Singapore by the President for his own treatment. In your view, is it in order for the First Family to shun local institutions for outside ones?
GC: What is in order is for the First Family to choose its doctors the same way you would choose doctors in South Africa. There is something untoward about that?
ND: Is there anything wrong with our own local institutions?
GC: Does anything have to be wrong about local institutions? How many people go to South Africa, London, India or some other place for medical attention?
ND: President Mugabe is an avowed champion of local black empowerment and . . .
GC: And the President empowers blacks by being taken ill? Come on! Let’s just upgrade our discussion I keep telling you, this is too facile you know. Your concept of empowerment is by the First Lady foregoing medical attention of a specialised nature because that is against black empowerment? Is this how you want to adulterate the concept of black empowerment?
ND: Not at all Mr Charamba, but should Zimbabweans not be equally concerned by the flight of scarce financial resources to go and benefit foreign hospitals?
GC: And the flight is only triggered by the first family? How many Zimbabweans go out to seek medical assistance outside? You are more worried about the flight of your money, so-called your money, not the flight of life?
ND: Are you suggesting it’s more hazardous to be treated locally?
GC: No that’s your conclusion. Don’t put your conclusions in my mouth. I am very clear in what I am saying and I will never trust you to say it for me. Any Zimbabwean, big or small, has a right to seek medical attention wherever they please, right? And the issue is where you get the best attention, right? And it’s about specialisation.
There is no country which is so self-sufficient in terms of medical attention. l mean, you have seen Presidents going elsewhere, is that new to you? When you see South African President (Jacob) Zuma going to Russia to seek medical attention, does that condemn South African medical institutions?
ND: So where does this leave the ordinary man who cannot afford this, Mr Charamba?
GC: The ordinary man goes for services they can afford ,right? And let’s not be nice about it. Do you go to consult a witchdoctor?
Why don’t you forgo going to a medical doctor and consult the witchdoctor for the sake of the common people?
For goodness sake and let it be said in black and white; this is the President of this country, this is the wife of the President of this country, nothing will take away that fact. They don’t do ordinary people’s work.
Why are you trying to make them ordinary only when it comes to medical issues? Why don’t raise issue over the amount of work they do every time, why don’t you ask the ordinary man to do it?


  • comment-avatar
    wensil 6 years ago

    “How many people go to South Africa, London, India or some other place for medical attention?”
    Not many Mr Charamba. The majority cannot even afford travel from Mutoko to Harare or from Plumtree to Bulawayo for medical attention. Not everyone is a board member racking in millions of dollars as sitting fees for doing nothing. The majority of the people are suffering whilst a very small minority are filthy rich and those are the ones you are talking about Mr Charamba.

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    Expat 6 years ago

    Thats the problem. This is a guy and his wife ‘that ARE ordinary Zimbabweans’, supposedly voted by the people to represent the PEOPLE and set an example and promote simple EYE testing and simple APPENDECTOMY but as the reporter quite correctly stated, uses the peoples taxes to go on foreign trips for SIMPLE procedures. No one has said that there are no citizens that seek medical treatment out of the country and the point is this is done simply because the medical services are certainly not what they used to be, and because they have been driven into the ground and qualified personnel have been forced to seek greener or at least paying pastures there leaves much to be desired in the medical services department. thats why the choice of leader and his wife seek care outside the country! Simply put during his leadership his government simply drove the inherited medical fraternity into the ground just like so many other sectors of our countries economy.

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    grabmore 6 years ago

    My Grandfather once needed to go to Singapore to have his eyes checked but he had little money. So he went to Patrick and said, “Please, Pat give me one million USD and a Boeing so I can take 100 of my drinking buddies with me to have my eyes checked.” And Cde Pat asked him “Do you pay Tax?” And my grandfather said “yes” And Cde Pat said, “Sorry. Only those who do not pay Tax get free medical plus a million dollars plus hotels for 100 friends plus a private boeing.”

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    Doris 6 years ago

    Whatever you or they say…I believe that the service that is provided in Zimbabwe for medical treatment is exceptional. This is not sarcasm. I would use our medical experts any day to those in, for example, the U.K. My 98 year old mother had a huge pain problem (in England). Phoned the Pain Clinic – this was in June – got a letter in the post the next day to say her appointment was in January the following year. Here, you can get expert treatment, immediately. I think ?Bob and his missus are scared to use the doctors here in case they slip a dodgy pill in their tea!!!

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      tapiwa 6 years ago

      exceptional ummmmm (in you own definition) but if used for the majority then maybe we might want to redefine that word because the Zimbabwean medical facilities are not exceptional. The doctors , nurses and staff might be very good.

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    Shingie 6 years ago

    George we want ordinary people to lead us. They understand us better.

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    The Mind Boggles 6 years ago

    @Doris a bit of an unfair comment I think, yes if you can afford private healthcare in Zim hen there are still some reasonable health care centres with well trained experts.
    I believe a 98 year old woman living in rural Muzarabani would not even have the luxury of phoning a “Pain Clinic” and certainly wouldn’t receive a letter offering an appointment. She would be lucky if she even received a Disprin. Hope your mum gets better and seen to quickly

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      Doris 6 years ago

      Agreed..I get your point. Might have been a bit rash with my comments!

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    Chanhuwachidembo 6 years ago

    It is literally not bad for a person including the First family to choose a Doctor of their choice but its sounds absurd that people claim to be as fit as fiddle then fly to and fro like a pigeon to seek medical attention. What Zimbabweans needs first is for the first family to admit they are sick if not very sick then we can mayb atleast sympathise with them because they are using tax payer’s money

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    Mwanawevhu 5 years ago

    I am willing to do the President’s job for free. Please please please sign me up.I know I won’t be as bad as him and he is being paid for it