Johannesburg — THE growing number of Zimbabwean politicians seeking medical treatment in South Africa is symbolic of the collapse of the troubled country's health sector, which is searing under years of mismanagement and economic crises.
Vice President, Constantino Chiwenga, and foreign affairs minister, Sibusiso Moyo, are the latest in series of government officials seeking treatment in the neighbouring country.
Though the duo had since returned to their native country, but a majority has to contend with understaffed hospitals struggling for medicines in Zimbabwe.
Chiwenga has been undergoing treatment at a Netcare Hospital in Woodhill, Pretoria while Moyo's was also flown here (South Africa) for treatment.
Ngqabutho Mabhena, Zimbabwe Diaspora Chairman, said the trend of politicians on medical visit to South Africa was illustrative of the collapsed sector.
He said as such, the new administration of President Emmerson Mnangagwa must prioritise reviving the sector.
Ironically, Mnangagwa was treated in South Africa some time last year after suspected poisoning.
"While we sympathize with the Vice President (Chiwenga) and the minister of foreign affairs (Moyo) in this difficult time , we are of the view that, government officials must utilize our local hospitals," Mabhena told CAJ News in an interview.
"It cannot be correct for the government to fail to invest in hospitals simply because they know that our hospitals are for the poor while the rich get flown to foreign hospitals. Politicians must use our hospitals for treatment. They should send their children to local government schools," he added.
Ironically, Mabhena said, when nurses protested against the state of Zimbabwe's health institutions Chiwenga ordered their dismissal.
In a separate interview, Zimbabwe Exiles Forum (ZEF) Director, Advocate Gabriel Shumba, said having Chiwenga and Moyo seeking treatment in South Africa was "emblematic of the sorry state of our hospitals and other infrastructure."
"It is embarrassing that the country continues to be dependent on its neighbours or other countries for basics," said Shumba.
He lamented that Zimbabweans were dying of preventable diseases because they could not afford to seek treatment in other countries.
Cholera and typhoid have killed dozens this year. Government has declared a state of emergency.
"This glaring anomaly has to be remedied and all stakeholders have a role to play. More importantly however, it is the government that should set the pace of reconstruction and any second wasted is a second too precious," Shumba said.
Luke Dzipange Zunga, the Global Zimbabwe Diaspora Forum Chairman, argued Chiwenga and Moyo should be treated as health migrants in Zimbabwe's migration policy.
"Unless they (Zimbabwe) revive the economy nothing will work," Zunga argued.
He said countries should not rely on so-called technocrats to revive the struggling economy.
"Technocrats, though educated, cannot create or run an economy, all over Africa," Zunga said.
Zimbabwe's health sector woes are blamed on the administration of now-deposed President, Robert Mugabe, who for years has sought treatment mostly in Asia.