Charismatic MDC Alliance leader Nelson Chamisa has hailed new Minister of Health and Child Care, Vice President General (Rtd) Constantino Chiwenga’s decision to stop availing foreign currency to assist Cabinet Ministers and other senior government officials in seeking treatment in foreign hospitals as "commendable".
Said Chamisa: "Export ban commendable!" This comes after Chiwenga had told the media at his New Munhumutapa government offices that the state had stopped footing the medical bills of all senior government officials in order to maintain the national medical bill.
“We will not export our patients. We will not make referrals to our patients. It is everybody, ministers. Those who have been going out it is you and me. Is it not it? Altogether but that export bill was too high and that is what we want to do away with,” he thundered.
Senior government officials including Mnangagwa and his two vice-presidents, Chiwenga and Kembo Mohadi are well-known for travelling outside the country to receive treatment following years of neglect of the Zimbabwe public system.
During Zanu PF’s factional fights in 2017, Mnangagwa was airlifted to South Africa, following reports he was “poisoned” at the ruling party’s rally in Gwanda.
Chiwenga this year used a chartered flight several times to travel to China for medical check-ups as he battles chronic ailment that has seen him in and out of the hospital.
Last year, Chamisa told party supporters in Masvingo that he was worried over Chiwenga’s absence from public life when the decorated former army general spent months in Chinese hospital.
Addressing a rally at Mucheke Stadium in Masvingo in July last year, Chamisa said, "I am really worried about Chiwenga. I haven’t seen him for a long time. Mudhara wangu (my old man) Chiwenga, I don’t know if he is okay. I am really worried."
"Vamwe venyu hamuna kuchangamuka … waunotamba naye bhora haasi muvengi wako. Ko ukashaya anovhura deya unonzvenga ani?" (The person you play football with is not your enemy, as you can’t dribble yourself in a game).
"That’s why I am missing my old man. Ko makamuisa kupi. Ari kupi?" (Where did you put Chiwenga, where is he at the moment?)
Mohadi and Defence Minister Oppah Muchinguri were in 2018 also airlifted to South Africa to receive treatment for injuries sustained during a bomb blast at a Zanu campaign rally in Bulawayo.