By Patrick Guramatunhu- Health care, education and everything else affecting the ordinary people have been neglected by Robert Mugabe and now by Emmerson Mnangagwa and the consequences are there for all to see, especially now with the corona virus pandemic.
“As Progressive Teachers Union of Zimbabwe (PTUZ) we made it categorically clear without any equivocation or ambiguity that 98% of schools were not ready for opening but Ministry Officials claimed they were ready. Just two weeks after opening COVID 19 is spreading like wild fire in Schools in Zimbabwe. Where is the propagandist Taungana Ndoro, where is Hon Cain Matema, where is Mrs Thabela. Lies have short legs,” wrote Dr Takavafira M Zhou, President of PTUZ.
When Mugabe came into power in 1980 he was convinced he was God Almighty’s best gift ever to mankind and everything he touches will turn to gold. So when he preached about his mass prosperity, “Gutsa ruzhinji!” as he never tired of saying it, it was no sooner said than done. Most notably, he started spending big, really big!
Mr Big Spender was cocksure he was spending the nation to prosperity but was in fact doing the exact opposite. When he was finally convinced his scientific socialism was not working – no one would give him any more loan – and was forced to go ease on the spending he chose to cut spending of the soft targets but whilst the ruling elite continued to spend as if there was no tomorrow! Needless to say the economic decline continued.
When Mnangagwa took over from Mugabe following the November 2017 military coup, he hit the ground running, so to speak. He proclaimed from the rooftops “Zimbabwe is open for business!”
Other than the musical chairs that saw Mugabe and a few of his buddies booted out and Mnangagwa proclaiming the post Mugabe era a “Second Republic, a New dispensation” nothing had changed. The country was still a Banana Republic ruled by corrupt, incompetent and vote rigging thugs.
In short, there was no flood of investors in answer to his rooftop proclamation; investors are a shrewd lot they could see Zimbabwe had not change, it was still a Banana Republic. And so the big influx of investment to kick start the economy never materialised.
Mnangagwa did not dare cut the extravagant spending of the ruling elite; his continued hold on power dependent on their loyalty and cut their access to wealth and their loyalty will quickly disappear like morning mist! And so Mnangagwa, just like Mugabe before him, looked for the soft target to cut – health care, education and all those things affecting the poor and politically powerless.
It comes as no surprise at all that the government has reopened school without without making adequate provision even for something as basic as corona virus test kits and, for many school, not even running water.
“We challenge Cabinet Ministers to visit Nyamuka Primary (Manicaland), Kriste Mambo (Manicaland), Tongwe High ( Mat South), Neshangwe High (Mashonaland East), Masase High (Midlands), Chegato High (Midlands) and many other schools. Schools are running short of testing kits and in some schools after only testing ‘A’ and ‘O’ level students, more that 75 have been confirmed positive at one school. Worse still not all ‘A’ and ‘O’ level students have been tested as schools ran out of testing kits,” continued Dr Zhou.
“There is virtually no covid abatement equipment in schools, let alone running water. The bloated classes and hostels are a cause for concern, yet medalist in verbal marathon lie through their teeth that schools are ready.”
As a rule of thumb, corona virus is not so prevalent among those below 20 years of aged. The fact that there are so many students catching the virus may be because these school have become corona virus hotspots and many are succumbing because their systems are overwhelmed.
11 schools in Zimbabwe have so far been forced to close because the number of corona virus cases were too high for normal schooling to continue.
We know this Zanu PF government is obsessed with appearance and does not care about substance. The country’s official covid 19 cases and deaths have remained low at 126 817 and 4 550 respectively, clearly not all the reported covid 19 cases from the school are being taken into account.
The regime has been boasting about Zimbabwe’s low covid-19 statics, insisting it is proof of the regime’s competent management of the pandemic. This is nonsense when it is clearly a case of deliberately under reporting, especially when the price of failing to accurately accounting for the cases means many infected individuals who should otherwise be in isolation are left to spread the virus far and wide.
In January 2019, before the corona virus outbreak, the best performing school Chiredzi South constituency for Grade 7, Form 2, 4 and 6 had 3% pass rate with the majority posting 0%! No doubt many rural school will be in the same boat as Chiredzi South. Decades of being starved of adequate funding have taken their toll.
One has to question the rational behind the Zimbabwe government’s insistence on reopening schools, against teachers’ advice, turning them into corona virus hotspots and putting the health of students at increased health risk so the regime can brag it has managed to keep covid 19 cases low and thus reopen schools. And the students are running the risk for the sake of a 3% pass rate at best!