FORMER President Robert Mugabe is unwell and in Singapore receiving medical attention, President Emmerson Mnangagwa said on Saturday while millions of Zimbabweans contend with lack of drugs at public hospitals.
Mugabe, during his reign, was constantly under fire from the opposition and critics, demanding that he steps down over failing health and old age as he frequented Singapore to get medical attention. He was removed from power in a coup in November 2017 after 37 years in power.
The former leader, who has shied away from public attention since his ouster in November 2017, left the country for Singapore on April 2, Mnangagwa told the Zimbabwe Broadcasting Corporation in a special Independence Day interview.
“He has not been feeling well. At the age of 95, I think he is reasonably in good health. Currently, he is not in the country. He left on April 2 for Singapore, he will be away for about 29 days and he will come back.
“I am making sure that I do the facilitation for him to receive treatment, take him to Singapore and to bring him back, all the facilities, I make sure that it is done,” Mnangagwa said.
Mugabe and top government ministers receive State-funded medical attention overseas, while locals have to make do with lack of drugs at public hospitals.
The country faces serious drug shortages, with some medical aid societies, private health institutions and pharmacies now demanding payment in United States dollars, further condemning the majority to misery.
The pharmaceutical sector blames government for the drug shortages, arguing that the sector continues to be allocated insignificant monies for the importation of drugs.
Doctors and nurses have on several occasions been forced to down tools in protest against lack of drugs and other essential equipment at public heath institutions. In the 2019 National Budget, Finance minister Mthuli Ncube allocated $694,5 million or 9% of the budget to the sector against the 15% stipulated under the Abuja Declaration.
In April 2001, the African Union member countries met in Abuja and pledged to allocate at least 15% of their annual budgets to improve the health sector and urged donor countries to scale up support.