The country’s deplorable health situation made worse by Mugabe’s persistence in flying out of the country for all his and his family’s health needs is the one issue that had the smooth talking Finance Minister Patrick Chinamasa stammering lost for words on BBC Hardtalk!
“We have discussed how bad the hospitals are, maternity healthcare in particular is awful,” said the Hardtalk presenter, Zeinab Badawi. And the people see President Mugabe’s daughter jetting off to give birth somewhere else.
“How do you think most Zimbabweans would view that?”
Minister Chinamasa had accepted the invitation to appear on Hardtalk because it was an opportunity for the Zanu PF regime to once again blame the British government of PM Tony Blair for reneging on its commitments to fund the land redistribution which left Mugabe with no choice but to seize the white owned farms to give to the landless blacks. The British and its Western Allies responded to the farm seizure by imposing sanctions of Zimbabwe.
Sanctions are “the Genesis” of Zimbabwe’s economic problem, insisted Minister Chinamasa.
Minister Chinamasa has been in Mugabe’s government for donkey years and he, of all Mugabe’s cronies, is well versed in the tyrant’s tactics of denying responsibility for everything that has gone wrong and blaming it all on “the illegal sanctions imposed by the evil British Imperialists and their Allies.” But even a seasoned parrot like Chinamasa can fluff his lines.
“We should go for a situation where most Zimbabweans are seeking treatment at home and not outside!” replied the Minister, after repeated attempt to avoid answering the question. The question of Mugabe and his family jetting off at the drop of a hat even for the most routine health checks is, without doubt, the one question that took the Minister way outside his comfort zone.
The President’s daughter and her entourage of security details and the usual hangers-on jetted off to the Far East and were there for more than a month. The President’s wife and her entourage then joined the daughter and they too were there for more than a month. Then the President too jetted off with his own even bigger team of security details and hangers-on in a hired Air Zimbabwe Jet to pick up his daughter, wife, grandson, and their entourage. He did not land, pick them up and fly back; no he was in the Far East three days.
Minister Chinamasa must have fallen off his chair when he was given the bill; Bona and her entourage’s airfare, hospital and hotel bill and similarly Grace and her entourage and, of course, Mugabe’s bill were all at public expense. Mugabe’s overseas health checks cost $3 million; in 2012 alone he made 12 such trips. The cost to the nation of Mugabe’s grandson must be $10 million, at least!
“If the $10 million of public money spent on President Mugabe’s grandson, had been spent up grading one maternity ward in just one of Zimbabwe’s Hospitals surely the facility would have matched that of the Far East Hospital Bona used. The country would have benefited because the first class ward would now be used by other Zimbabwean mothers too. You are not blaming this criminal waste of the nation’s resources on the British too are you?” Zeinab Badawi could have asked the, by then fidgeting Chinamasa. She did not have to because it is clear the Minister had asked himself that question a thousand times.
“So the situation where some Zimbabweans feel that they should go outside the country (for treatment at PUBLIC expense) clearly needs attention!” admitted Minister Chinamasa.
It was the firebrand Margret Dongo, herself a former Zanu PF MP and a war veteran, who said all Zanu PF leaders were Mugabe’s wives “Vakadzi vaMugabe!” because none of them had the guts to stand up Mugabe even over a great national importance and the tyrant was hopelessly wrong! The present cases being one such case where Mugabe’s decision to squander millions of dollars of public money on foreign health trip whilst the local health service, starved of funds, fails to provide even the most basic service is nothing short of high treason.
Tendai Biti, Zimbabwe’s former MDC Minister of Finance, has had to tell Mugabe to reduce his globe-trotting to save money. Biti refused to pay University fees of the students on the Presidential Scholarship – a highly partisan arrangement to benefit the children of Zanu PF party loyalists’ children but at taxpayer’s expense.
For a seasoned mukadzi waMugabe like Patrick Chinamasa telling Mugabe through the Hardtalk forum – he clearly is too blushful to tell the tyrant face to face – that the mounting bills for overseas health trips “need attention” is the closest Chinamasa will ever get to telling Mugabe enough is enough of this criminal waste of public resources to gratify his and his family’s insatiable greed!