Nine years ago I lost my father. It was only after he had passed away that his medical test results were released with information of what was actually wrong with him.
The condition could have possibly been managed had we discovered it earlier, but this could not happen as Westend Hospital where he had been admitted, had no power.
A whole hospital facility could not run tests on my father because there was no electricity. This doesn’t even sound right, a hospital with no electricity?
I know in religion we talk about God’s time and how one cannot live beyond their set date of death but I believe there are many deaths caused by dysfunctional health systems in Zimbabwe. It is painful to watch your loved one die as they wait in a queue to be attended to.
How heart breaking is it to watch as your dear one’s health deteriorates because you cannot afford to buy the blood that they need which costs so much? Imagine you get involved in an accident and you are referred to a hospital where you are told that doctors cannot attend to you unless you pay cash up front.
Last year my friend discovered that her father had brain tumor and was told the only local hospital that could perform the operation was one of the expensive hospitals which required a cash payment of $4000 before performing the operation, this was despite the fact that he was on medical aid which was paid up to date.
My friend’s family sold a few disposable assets and managed to get her father checked in. He died the evening before the operation but they had already made the initial payment. Money was gone and so was my friend’s father. One is tempted to think that had he been attended to earlier, they could have saved him but time was lost trying to raise the money.
The Fear of Being a Burden
What scares and saddens me about some of our local hospitals is not seeing the sick patients, but it is the state of the hospital facilities. Watching people die whilst waiting for medical attention pains me more. I am even afraid of falling sick because I do not know whether or not I will be attended to on time. It is not even the fear of needles, but the thought that my medical bills will become a financial burden to my family that makes me avoid going to the hospital at all costs.
Where is my government in all this? Are they even aware that this is what we go through to get medical attention? How would they know when they travel across borders to receive medical attention? How would they know that Harare Hospital went for a week without water and patients were being asked to bring their own, including expecting mothers!
This among other things I am not happy about, is the reason I am saying #ThisFlag is my flag because I am tired of dysfunctional health systems. I have had enough of hearing the numerous stories of nightmares at the casualty unit and maternity wards in local hospitals. I am angry at having to pay medical aid only to be told that it is only acceptable at selected institutions which I did not sign up for. I am disappointed in a public health system that cannot provide basic medication yet year in year out; we hear that different organisations and countries are donating to the health ministry.
I was so excited when I heard of the ZIMASSET economic blueprint. I fully supported it in the hope that real empowerment had arrived. But now I feel dumb, years later nothing positive has come out of it (well according to me).
I still apply for government tenders through my humble small business but it is given that the same top officials will get each and every one of the tenders. I am still on the housing list with the city council because I’m always told there is no land but I religiously renew my payment every year. So if there is surely no land, how come the minister has promised his party’s youths land and housing stands? In 2016, 36 years after independence it is still a country run on ‘principles’ of whom you know and not simply what you are capable of or, what your qualifications are.
#ThisFlag resonates with me because I want to be appreciated for my knowledge and skills and not for who I know or who I bribed. When there is a call for a stay away, I do not have to stay away from a job that’s nonexistent. I stay away from a day’s journey of placing my resumes for imaginary job openings. When I shout #ThisFlag, it is because I want to build a better future for my children and not work only for rent, clothes and food whilst others build 50 bedroomed houses.
Where are our priorities set, in a country where everything is falling apart except for the welfare of top officials? Waking up to a quick shift from a cash country to a cashless country. As much as the whole world is going cashless why must we go cashless only because banks have run out? Why must we first queue for days to get our money before we adopt plastic money?
As if the cash crisis is not enough, suddenly we are told that imports on some goods have been banned. After being retrenched and after failing to secure formal employment, we have been living on cross boarder trading and someone just decides that it needs to stop without considering how many families will go hungry. I am tired of a system that shoots first then asks questions later.
Yesterday the 13th of July 2016 will be a memorable day for Pastor Evan Mawarire and those who stood by him and the #ThisFlag campaign. Events that occurred made me realise that it is okay to have a voice and it is important to stand up to what you believe in.
Thank you Pastor Evan for making me realise that freedom of speech and expression does not mean standing in front of a large crowd and telling them there is a ‘nice way’ for women to be raped. Speaking out does not mean telling other women that if they are raped whilst wearing miniskirts they have no one to blame but themselves. It is about asking for justice and good governance.
The way that Pastor Evan and many other Zimbabweans have been asking for better lives has opened my eyes to the fact that it is okay to question a dysfunctional system, not only to the government but in my church, in my home and in my community. #ThisFlag is my struggle because I believe it clearly speaks to all our concerns including those of a young woman like me.
Women’s voices could be heard from the crowd that stood outside Rotten Row Court yesterday. It is because they felt it was important to contribute to a struggle that spoke against injustice. They wanted the man who spoke against corruption, embezzlement of public funds and inconsistent policies that affected all of us, set free because they believed he had done nothing wrong. Although we could not tell what motivated each person, everyone’s presence physical or virtual showed that the campaign #ThisFlag, echoed their voices.
Article written by BLACK WIDOW ZW
Main image: Citizens waiting outside Rotten Row Court during Pastor Evan Mawarire’s hearing. Image taken by Privilege Musvanhiri