By Josiah Mucharowana
Everywhere, everyone is waiting on the world to change.
Covid-19 has brought lockdowns, movement restrictions and people spend longer periods of time indoors. There is just a whole gamut of measures globally that people have not been used to.
It’s not business as usual as the world battle to contain the invisible and insidious enemy, coronavirus.
Governments too are in the thick of things. We have seen a massive mobilisation of resources everywhere with many countries digging deeper in their coffers to help augment medical supplies and repatriation of citizens from far- flung shores.
The State of New York in America is reportedly paying six times the prices of personal protective equipment ( PPEs) like masks, medical suits and gloves. That is top dollar. It’s a war! It’s a crisis!
The Bank of America has even in a very short space of time availed thousands of soft loans to citizens to help them get by, paying rentals, employees and daily needs like foodstuffs.
Spacious venues have also been quickly turned into multi-bed medical environments accommodating thousands of infected citizens as the country prepares for Amargeddon that is coronavirus.
Even a cruise ship named Comfort has docked in the vicinity of New York in anticipation to accommodate thousands of sick patients in its thousand- plus beds fitted in its bowels.
Such is how a nation pulls together in times of strife
For South Africa, billionaires like Patrice Motsepe, and the Ruppert and Openheimer families have given each a billion Rand to help stave off the disease amongst the citizens. The money entrusted to government, even though loaned, is to buy medical supplies including ventilators, masks, gloves et cetera.
Sadly for Zimbabwe, it is once again time to go cap in hand everywhere for donations in the guise of fighting the coronavirus that at the time of writing has 9 cases of infection including one death of Zororo Makamba.
The country received a donation of 20 thousand laboratory diagnostic test kits from Chinese Billionaire Jack Ma through his Alibaba Foundation including 100 thousand face masks, 1000 protective suits and face shields for frontline workers including doctors and nurse and hospital janitors.
Additionally, telecommunications business mogul Strive Masiyiwa has been most conspicuous for his donations in the dilapidated health sector, in the wake of C-19, he has donated once again 45 ICU ventilators suites to be used in our public hospitals.
These machines, to be delivered within the month don’t come cheap hey!
They run into thousands and with Covid-19 rampaging even the most forgotten backwaters of the world, ventilators have become priced possessions like gold dust or rare spices.
Previously, he had been instrumental in quelling a protracted strike by medical doctors when they sought from government remuneration packages at parity with the prevailing economic scenario.
Masiyiwa chipped in with foreign currency calming flaring tempers. Some doctors got back to work while others jumped ship.
The move came at a time when VP Chiwenga had just dismissed striking nurses for demanding the same.
Nonetheless, in the past week, President Munangagwa went public appealing to the donor community for US$ 2,2 billion worth of humanitarian aid in the next 12 months.
Reportedly, US$ 220 million is pencilled in for fighting against coronavirus. There are also projections to cater for health, agriculture, water, sanitation and hygiene, nutrition, shelter and housing as well as wildlife conservation and livestock.
These are huge demands from the world for a government that cannot plan for itself. It is like the world owes us a favour, which sadly, it doesn’t.
Currently, the country is facing critical food shortages with figures perched at 7,7 million in need of urgent food assistance both in towns and rural areas.
Surely we cannot be the Biblical Lazarus. Our nation continuously seeks freebies from anywhere. A government cannot rely on philanthropy for eternity. We might as well do away with a central government and let citizens organise themselves into a non-aligned structure. What is a government for if it cannot think, organise and plan ahead for its people?
Cyclone Idai came recently and buffeted Manicaland and Masvingo Provinces. America and a battery of civil society organisations and the South African Army Corps of Engineers came in handy helping the affected.
There were monumental lessons to take from the natural disaster .Yet Zanu PF party hawks were ensconced in rerouting aid and food meant for cyclone victims back to their shops, kith and kin. We all remember how aid was distributed along partisan membership in the wake of Cyclone Idai.
Our country is blessed with sought- after mineral resources like gold , platinum, chrome and many other precious stones that fetch good prices on the world market. Is is not better we utilise these? We have the primary products and we like to pride ourselves as better educated brains on the continent. Where are our economic fundis?
Surely we can create an emergency fund for when push comes to shove, we dig in. Other nations like Norway have sovereign funds for to cater for each citizen’ s education, health and social protection.
As recent as this year, South Africa has been mulling a sovereign fund too.
At a time like this, it is embarassing to go begging for help when world governments are engrossed in saving their own.
Enter Oppah Muchinguri on coronavirus as punishment from God on Western countries for slapping economic sanctions on Zimbabwe. The same countries we beg aid from. What irony! My goodness, do these people ever think before they talk?
Even when the Munangagwa administration likes to brand itself ‘the new dispensation’, largely it has perpetuated the status quo of the Mugabe decades of pillaging, looting and rampant economic mismanagement.
President Munangagwa should be made aware that a healthy person who begs for food is an insult to a generous farmer.
There has been numerous trips abroad as far as China and Scandinavian countries like Russia, Belarus and little- known Azerbaijan and Khazakistan for bailouts.
From Belarus, we saw a pact that revived transport parastatal ZUPCO in exchange for 10 thousand hectares of virgin land. To this day, there is still a public transport crisis in the country proving the deal was a drop in the bucket.
We also saw a chrome deal with the Russians at Karo Mine in which the the Scandinavians dealt with extraction of chrome from the spoil heaps.
Most of the international trips, well over 40 in total since he usurped power in the November 17 coup, proved to be no shows but luxurious junkets in expensively hired Gulfstream jetliners.The plane hired for US$30 000 per hour drained the national fiscus as each single trip would blow millions.
There is just something we are not getting right as a nation. Something is amiss. We cannot continue dancing ourselves lame and sing ourselves hoarse at political rallies while the President continues flip-flopping.
Coronavirus is probably a once in a lifetime disaster. Expectedly, authorities will make mistakes and misjudgements because, hitherto, there is no benchmark to measure ourselves against. The people would like to take sides with leaders but surely it should be a learning curve. Notes should be taken. Infections on frontline caregivers like nurses should be taken seriously, for fear they continue unraveling and become a runaway trend.
The President’s scarf should be synonymous with initiative, enterprise, experiments, and goodwill and not despair, desperation and begging. Munangagwa’ s conduct should inspire confidence in a nation where many people battle for survival in an economy in shambles.
Josiah Mucharowana is a trained journalist and writes in his personal capacity. Feedback; joemasvokisi@gmail.
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