Covid-19: A Time for Introspection in Zimbabwe
Freedom is, without question, the lifeblood of our humanity and our being. This has been my greatest takeaway following the closure of the ‘world’, as humanity grapples to contain the spread of the Coronavirus. This fight has left us in chains, in pain and helpless.
If this trend continues, I might have to start entertaining a possibility of a world without ‘humans’, a world where all my freedoms are curtailed and gone. My heart bleeds for my freedom to be, freedom to be a human being, freedom to move and make decisions on my life. The situation I find myself in, reminds me of my childhood, growing up in a time of Gukurahundi (where more than 22 000 Ndebele people were massacred by the Mugabe regime), where it was a crime to be born Ndebele. Freedom of movement was a privilege of the favoured and prestigious tribe. As children, we could not leave our homes and play with other children at the local playground. Our playground was just a bare ground with nothing; yet, we were content to have it and yearned everyday for an opportunity to play there. The opportunity never came! It was so near yet so far. We had to stay home safe, just in case the fifth brigade would pounce on us.
Today the world has closed its boarders; people in most places have closed out their homes. Our freedoms globally have been put under constraint. I have been reduced to a small child, whose life is under complete parentage of the government of the day, sadly an authoritarian government whose intentions are not only unpredictable and malicious but hollow in a manner that scares me. As a young girl, growing in Bulawayo, the world outside was resentful but home gave all the comfort. My worry lies with my ‘new’ parent, my government, which continues to take away even the little comfort I need to keep my sanity in this difficult moment. My government has failed me; it has created an economy that has left us as paupers. As such, it is a struggle to get the precious liquid-water we need to wash our hands and fight Covid-19, a struggle to get electricity so that we can watch TV and keep ourselves entertained, we have no food to eat as we wait for our freedom as mealie meal, our staple food is in shortage. We have to queue for water at a borehole or community bowser and for mealie meal. Social distancing is proving hard for a desperate man to implement. My government has imposed a 21-day lockdown without the necessary measures in place, at the very least of ensuring that we have water supply. We hear of deaths happening in people’s homes yet our government tells us that only one Zimbabwean has succumbed to the Coronavirus. We know it’s not true and we are worried for our dear lives. Our doctors who have been on go-slow for a very long time have downed tools completely. Our nurses have joined in the strike as well. They are demanding a basic need: protective clothing to handle Coronavirus related cases.
In this entire circus, worrying is an unexplained upsurge of a terrible ‘flu’, many of the people I talk to are down with the ‘flu’ but there are no doctors and nurses to attend to them. The public health system itself collapsed years back and there is no hope for its resuscitation as yet. We are on our own to face this giant yet we feel so vulnerable and hopeless. We have to continue to cling to our beloveds for comfort and hope, as we are shattered and bartered.
We are in this mess because our government let us down over the years and there is no somersault that can be done overnight to mend a battered health care system, a system destroyed by decades of mismanagement and corruption. As such, we only have ruins left, of a once glorified public health care system, in a country with more than 95% unemployment and an unyieldingly tumultuous economy.
In all this pain, there is one good thing. The world has closed its boarders. We are ‘quarantined’ together with our leaders. Sadly and in a typical fashion my government is already investing in a state of the art facility, not for us, but to carter for themselves and their health as they cannot leave for China, Singapore and South Africa among other countries. I can only pray and hope that this will be a lesson to my African leaders that a home they create should be a home they are willing to die in.