On Thursday, Zimbabwe Hospital Doctors Association (ZHDA) secretary-general Dr Patrick Mugoni broke down twice on live television while making a presentation during last week’s youth convention in Gweru, which was headlined by President Mnangagwa.
Dr Mugoni became an instant social media sensation when, overcome by emotions, he broke into tears twice in front of a sea of attendees and multitudes of viewers across different platforms.
After thanking the President for facilitating the improvement of conditions of service for public doctors, which he described as historic, Dr Mugoni could only cover his face with his left palm as he cried a river.
After seemingly gathering his wits, he tried to have another go, his voice shaking with emotion, but, alas, the water works began again and he had to be whisked off stage amid cheers from the crowd.
“Anyone in my position would have reacted the same way,” he told The Sunday Mail on Friday, without an inkling of doubt or regret.
A senior resident medical officer at Parirenyatwa Group of Hospitals, Dr Mugoni inadvertently became an overnight sensation commanding both nationwide acclaim and derision.
Following the somewhat dramatic meltdown, he had to suspend his social media presence, including isolating himself from his WhatsApp account that is currently inundated by friends and relatives and vile attacks from strangers.
Dr Mugoni says on the fateful afternoon, his emotions gave in owing to an overwhelming combination of excitement and the relief of being vindicated.
“Firstly, it was a combination of happiness and relief.
“I was reflecting on the journey that we had gone through as an association in trying to negotiate better conditions of service for medical doctors.
“For me, I was at the high point of victory; we had just been vindicated and I was declaring victory.
“I was reflecting on our struggle of leading people who were not necessarily believers; people who thought engagement with our employer would not yield results,” he said.
“Secondly, I was overwhelmed by being asked to make a speech in front of the President, which has always been a dream of mine growing up.
“I never thought I would have such an opportunity in my life and I was just overwhelmed by the occasion.”
A self-confessed recluse, the 29-year-old father of one says he withered from the attention of thousands before him, let alone the millions of viewers.
The largest crowd he has ever addressed, he says, does not go beyond 250 congregants at his church — Living Word Ministries.
Dr Mugoni was part of the delegation that successfully negotiated a salary adjustment for public sector doctors recently.
Through engagement with authorities, primarily the President through Vice President Constantino Chiwenga, doctors’ salaries and benefits were increased variously by between $1 200 and $1 400.
“When we started working at Parirenyatwa, the situation here was very dire, largely dominated by lack of equipment, consumables and drugs and morale was at its lowest point.
“However, as someone who knew where such issues are articulated, I never lost hope but kept on fighting for the improvement of our working conditions.
“What we did last November when we were elected to lead, was to focus our efforts on articulating our grievances and issues to the authorities, but we were continuously frustrated by some offices that turned a blind eye on what we saw as genuine concerns of workers.
“On February 9, our efforts paid dividends as we were afforded an opportunity to interact directly with the President.
“Our President is a listening President and he agreed with us to the extent that our grievances were genuine and needed to be looked into with the urgency they deserved,” explained Dr Mugoni.
“However, when my fellow colleagues and I reported back to our constituency, we were ridiculed.
“The ground had already been cultivated to the extent that there was always negative feedback to all our report backs.
“We were however vindicated when Government followed through on their promise of a review.
“So, what you witnessed on Thursday were tears of vindication. We had achieved what we had sought to achieve.
“The adjustment was beyond what we had even imagined.
“Last year, we got a salary adjustment of just $70, but we had managed to fight for an adjustment of between $1200 and US$1400.”
However, with his newly found fame came ridicule from some sections of society. He was being caricatured, the video of his “moment” was circulating on social media with less-than-flattering comments to go along with.
A social media “challenge” of the incident was soon trending.
He remains adamant, arguing that those ridiculing him have no idea of the struggle he has been through.
“The reaction of some individuals has been shocking to say the least.
“I have been subject to much ridicule on social media and have had to withdraw. But these are just individuals who are uninformed and know nothing about what we have had to go through to get to where we are.
“I am not moved and will continue to struggle for better conditions for my fellow workers.”
Above all, he says President Mnangagwa has earned his vote.
“My President has my vote,” he declared.