There have always been endless pleas by the HIV/AIDS victims over their neglect by the National Aids Council (NAC). And in concert with what has apparently become the culture in Zimbabwe, such genuine pleas fall on deaf ears. Apparently the leaders in Zimbabwe seem to have realized that they can always easily ignore pleas from suffering Zimbabweans, and still stay in office. Accountability of leaders in the Zimbabwean culture is still an issue to be knocked on the mind of the larger electorate. Afraid of street protests, then why not simply stop paying the AIDS levy? Or you want to continue feeding the families of the NAC?
This is not the first time that the corruption of the NAC has been unearthed, is it? However, it is easy to note that this time around the Zanu pf mouth piece is more than eager to try and cunningly present the current Health Minister, (MDC`s) Henry Madzorera as having failed to tame the NAC. The usual politics at play!
In fact, the Zimbabwean Police, in April 2009, well after the formation of the Government of National Unity (GNU), reportedly used brutal force to break up a sit-in protest by HIV positive patients who were demonstrating against the high consultation fees at the Masvingo General Hospital, leaving dozens injured.
Apparently, the current NAC Board was put in place by the then Health Minister, David Parirenyatwa in August 2008. The Zimbabweans living with HIV/AIDS, back then, strongly voiced against their omission in the Board, ´We feel let down because we are the people best placed to articulate the issues affecting us.“We are only remembered when there is a workshop to be held, and the organizers want to use our testimonies to record and take to donors to justify requested funds. `
In Zimbabwe, there is also now some new trend where the cunning seem to exploit Christianity and the Bible to claim their `holiness and sincerity` in addressing the plight of the suffering and the downtrodden of today`s world. The cunning Zanu pf government in 2008 included Reverends in the Board. And it was also argued that the inclusion of stunning artistic personalities like the Gospel singer, Fungisai Zvakavapano would also bring dignity into what was the already tarnished Board. Without necessarily implying that these particular Reverends, Business tycoons, and big personalities are also a bad people. I however think that should they be failing to bring change in the manner the NAC is being run, then why not be smart enough to resign?
It is now one year since this new Board took office, and yet the plight of the Zimbabweans HIV/AIDS sufferers has worsened by day. And what is worrying is that besides the staff working at NAC, each and every member of this Board also claims monthly allowances from the Aids Levy. Yes, allowances for the talk shows they have! So, if one claims a monthly allowance and then fail to deliver, fails to address the plight of the HIV/AIDS sufferers, is this not some form of stealing?
I also shudder to think how many Zimbabweans are at all aware that their country has a National Aids Policy Document which was long carved in 1999? Well, as is always the case in Zimbabwe, the Government and its related institutions deprive citizens of information so that they can run shows at ease without every Tom, Harry and Dick questioning them. And as if that is not enough, millions of dollars were spent in the workshops that culminated in the Policy Document. Dollars that could have been used to alleviate the plight of the orphan whose parents died from AIDS.
In 2008, the then Deputy Minister of Health, Edwin Muguti in a strange move, spoke out against the NAC`s paying of hefty salaries to its Officers and splurging on luxuries at the expense of the sick. It however remains a mystery, how a Health Minister could complain through the media about a problematic Board that he not only put in place, but a Board which also reports to him as is clearly spelt out in the Zimbabwe Aids Policy Document.
If the NAC has so dismally failed to tackle the plight of the HIV/AIDS sufferer, then why has the GNU not taken action against this institute? Most of the beneficiaries to the AIDS levy are top Government Officials, mostly Ministers and their relatives. And in this light, should the trade unions not campaign against the aids levy, unless and until there is transparency in the manner in which the funds are being used and the HIV/AIDS sufferers are content with the programs put in place. Because, what is important here, is not just having a levy in place, but a levy from which the people benefit from.
And like Mandela put it, the Zimbabwean problem is an issue of Leadership Crisis. As a nation, we are still struggling to identify the right leaders – Leaders with the plight of the Zimbabwean at heart.
Maybe, we can spare a serious thought on one of the ideas ZAPU is selling to the Zimbabwean electorate- Federalism? If Provinces are so empowered would there not be better accountability on such funds? Would there not be more focused attention on that ailing AIDS victim or that orphan in Masvingo, Mashonaland East, Mutare? I do not mean to necessarily influence anyone to join the rejuvenated ZAPU, but with the ongoing talks of the new constitution, this maybe one of the issues people could consider being enshrined in the new constitution.
You and only you are best placed to make choices.
The writer, Bridget Tapuwa can be reached at http://britavoice-zim-girl.blogspot.com/ or firstname.lastname@example.org