By Health Reporter- Presidential spokesperson George Charamba has said that Russian-made air ambulances the government received last year have no pilots.
President Emmerson Mnangagwa received the helicopters from the Russian State Corporation (Rostec) at Robert Gabriel Mugabe International Airport in Harare on 19 May 2023.
The Herald the following day said that the country would have received at least 32 helicopters from Rostec under a public-private sector partnership agreement before the end of 2023.
However, eight months down the line, the helicopters are still grounded because the country doesn’t have trained pilots and technicians to fly them.
Responding to one Peter Mupondi who had asked why the helicopters were not airlifting patients to hospitals from accident scenes during the festive season, President Emmerson Mnangagwa’s spokesman George Charamba, said:
How would you see them when you cannot see far, higher????? Helicopters are not bought together with PILOTS!!! Aya amunoti madhiraivha pamotokari, to bring the discussion to your level. Each copter needs a technician. Wazvinzwa here muzapu??? Madhiraivha ari kuVID as you tweet!
As the nation grapples with a resurgence of cholera, the absence of these helicopters, touted as life-saving assets, has become glaringly apparent.
Cholera, thought to be eradicated, has surged with over 8,000 reported cases, straining the already fragile healthcare system, especially in remote areas.
In the face of this crisis, the promised air ambulances could play a crucial role, whisking critically ill patients to better-equipped facilities and potentially saving lives.
The silence on their whereabouts, amid justifications ranging from maintenance to pilot training, feels like a betrayal of trust.
The optics are stark: symbols of international goodwill standing idle while a preventable disease wreaks havoc.
Questions arise about whether these helicopters were genuinely intended for public health emergencies or merely a political display of international influence.
The cholera crisis demands transparency.
Zimbabweans deserve convincing answers about why these supposedly life-saving tools remain grounded while loved ones fight for survival.
The air ambulances, once symbols of hope, now serve as metaphors for Zimbabwe’s challenges – a nation with potential yet grappling with preventable tragedies due to systemic inequities.
True leadership is tested not in grand displays but in everyday struggles.
The fight against cholera will reveal Zimbabwe’s heroes, defined not by gleaming metal but by an unwavering commitment to serve, heal, and save lives.