By Tafadzwa Muranganwa
THE advice by President Robert Mugabe that people should go for routine medical check-ups left many people wondering if he is in touch with realities obtaining in the country or not.
Many Zimbabweans owing to current economic hardships are failing to take their sick relatives to hospitals because of high user-fees being demanded at a time when unemployment is in the region of 90 percent.
For example, many pregnant women have had to give birth at home because they cannot afford to pay US$25 needed to register their pregnancies at maternity clinics or hospitals.
Mugabe’s message also comes at a time when most health service providers are declining medical aid cards from various societies including PSMAS where most civil servants are members demanding cash upfront or even detaining patients who would have failed to pay.
And as if that is not enough, the message from the President is ignorant to the fact that most public health facilities are without essential drugs because of under-funding, to the extent that some major hospitals had to briefly suspend serious operations due to lack of machinery.
Year in, year out doctors also go on strike demanding better wages and working conditions which makes it even difficult for the majority to access health care in the country and he himself has no confidence in local health facilities that he goes to the extent of chartering private jets to take him to hospitals in Singapore and Malaysia for reportedly eye-check-ups.
Zimbabwe is also facing a serious health personnel shortage due to a recruitment freeze that was imposed in 2010 to help contain ballooning employment costs.
The President is also not in sync with the reality that most people in rural areas still have to travel many kilometres to the nearest clinic which in most cases will be manned by a nurse aid, yet 60 percent of Zimbabweans live in the rural areas.
The 93-year-old Mugabe is also ignorant to the fact that 70 percent of the country’s health service is funded by donors, including the supply of condoms and family planning contraceptives.
However, others are of the view that the President’s message was targeted at his colleagues in government who have kept their health status a secret and some of them succumb to sudden heart attacks or just collapse and die.
Mugabe went on to give an example of Minister Walter Chidhakwa whom he advised to go for a medical check-up when he got sick, adding that people should not blame sickness on witchcraft but should consult doctors instead.
His statement, however, was interpreted to be an attack on Vice President Emmerson Mnangagwa who got sick after allegedly being poisoned at a Youth Rally in Gwanda a few weeks ago.
This, however, is not the first time that Zanu PF politicians have mocked poor and struggling Zimbabweans this year.
Just a few months ago Mugabe while officiating at the official opening of Tokwe Mukosi Dam said he had every reason to laugh about youths who continue to demand jobs from his government when there were many ‘employment opportunities’ around.
The mockery was further amplified by another Zanu PF official Psychology Maziwisa who claimed that all the menial jobs that people are doing to scrounge a living were part of the 2.2 million jobs that Zanu PF promised to deliver after 2013 polls.
Finance Minister Patrick Chinamasa also told Parliament that it was not the duty of government to create jobs but that people should create their jobs.