By Bulawayo Correspondent
POLITICAL parties and civic organisations in Bulawayo have blasted government for failing to release funds towards the upgrade of Thorngrove Infectious Diseases Hospital so it could handle coronavirus cases in and outside the city.
Local Government Minister July Moyo Saturday announced that all COVID-19 patients in the country’s second largest city would be referred to Wilkins Infectious Diseases Hospital in Harare as Thorngrove had no capacity to handle the cases.
The government has equipped Sally Mugabe Central Hospital in Harare with a laboratory and other coronavirus testing machines leaving out Thorngrove and other public hospitals in Bulawayo.
MDC Alliance National chairperson, Thabitha Khumalo described the move to refer COVID-19 cases to Harare as a joke.
“Bakwethu, let us stand up in the comfort of our homes and tell the government and the world that Bulawayo lives matter. The government should fix Thorngrove and Ekusileni hospitals for the treatment of coronavirus now. We have seen it in other countries that coronavirus is a killer and this Wilkins trip is just a joke,” she said.
Community Youth Development Trust (CYDT) Coordinator, Sichasisile Ndlovu said the outbreak of COVID-19 was a wake-up call for the government to fully implement devolution of power and allow provinces to map their own action plans to handle disasters of that magnitude in future.
“The government should consider devolving power in such trying times as a measure of combating COVID-19 through strengthening local institutions to make decisions that will assist them to collectively fund-raise and ensure that local communities are well informed on this pandemic,” said Ndlovu.
Zapu spokesperson, Iphithule Maphosa concurred with Ndlovu, saying if devolution was effective, the southern region of Zimbabwe would be fully prepared for the pandemic.
“If devolution was really functioning in Zimbabwe, the relevant local devolution structures would have directed all the available resources to Thorngrove isolation centre as well as acquire all the necessary equipment like laboratories as is the case in Harare. If the disease was to hit this region right now, people will die like flies,” said Maphosa.
Mthwakazi Republic Party (MRP) president Mqondisi Moyo accused the government of lacking concern for the welfare and health of people of Matabeleland.
“As MRP, this is what we have always been crying against, that this government does not serve the interests of our people. Right now, all the coronavirus tests are being done in Harare yet we are closer to South Africa where they have recorded more cases than us from the pandemic. They cannot even refurbish Thorngrove yet they want Bulawayo COVID-19 patients to travel all the way to Harare. Surely this is unacceptable,” said Moyo.
ERA’s Amos Dangwa said his party was disappointed by the government‘s isolation of other provinces in the fight against COVID-19.
“Because of the magnitude of the pandemic, the government by now should have allocated equal resources to all provinces to fight the disease. For example, Victoria Falls which has recorded one case so far and is more susceptible to the disease by virtue of being a tourism attraction place should have testing laboratories and other equipment by now. This level of ill-preparedness is shocking,” said Dangwa.