In case you were wondering, that adds up to over a million dollars, or more than R14m for the trip. Last year first lady Grace Mugabe was reported to have bought a R58m house in Harare. Then we found out that she also acquired a R per month abode in Dubai not far from the Gupta-paid-for palace of the Zumas. Not bad for student accommodation. One of the places we went to visit was Harare Central Hospital. It also served as a teaching hospital. During our visits to the wards it was clear that the staff were demoralised and under enormous pressure.
They complained of a lack of running water and electricity, and patients said that they had to bring their own linen and food. But it was the paediatric unit that broke my heart. The two totally exhausted gynaecologists and paediatrician were almost in tears as they related the difficulties they faced on a daily basis.
For example, they had to remove the doors of the theatre where Caesareans were performed since there was no air conditioning and the doctors and theatre staff frequently fainted during operations through a combination of heat and exhaustion. The women who did not need surgical intervention were giving birth in a long row of beds, with curtains between them. Since this was the hospital where all the difficult cases from around Zimbabwe were referred to, a very high number of babies were premature and needed medical intervention.
But there were not enough doctors and not even the most basic facilities. I watched helplessly as they tried to revive a tiny little girl, without any equipment.
Unable to watch the clearly futile attempt, I turned around. Behind me a pile of dirty linen suddenly moved. To my shock I realised that there were two new-born babies lying amongst it. It was the only way they could keep them warm, the paediatrician explained.
Very few of the incubators worked anymore and those that were still functioning often shut down when there were electricity blackouts and no diesel for the generators, leaving the babies deprived of oxygen. In the ward for the premature babies, desperate mothers pleaded for our help.
There were not enough bassinets and two to three babies shared a tiny little cot — a very dangerous situation with infections. None of the babies had nappies on and only a lucky few were wrapped in coarse blankets. The biggest shock came with the seriously premature babies. In the corner of the ward stood a simple pine table covered with a thin blanket.
On the table were 15 babies. They were totally naked lying in their own excrement.
The women who did not need surgical intervention were giving birth in a long row of beds, with curtains between them. They are everywhere, living and rummaging in the corners where we store our garbage, occupying private spaces and threatening to invade our homes as their numbers grow exponentially in direct response to the piling rubbish. So the Pied Piper played his pipes and all the rats gathered, followed him out of Hamelin and fell off a cliff.
A nurse stood next to the table and moved a tube of oxygen between them. On the corner of the table stood a bar heater — a desperate and futile attempt to warm these underweight babies whose bodies could not generate any heat.
It also served as a teaching hospital. Baby restraint devices are available to secure an infant during take-off, landing and when seat belt signs are illuminated. Furious because of those little babies who were made to lie naked on a wooden table, shivering with cold and gasping for air.
I really hope so, but somehow doubt it. And so when I read about the excesses of the Mugabes I am furious. Furious because of those little babies who were made to lie naked on a wooden table, shivering with cold and gasping for air.
I fail to understand how a mother can be so removed from reality that she can buy a R45m home for her two sons, who almost daily share their champagne and fast car-lifestyle on social media, while the mothers of her country have to watch their new-born children die. Of course as we learn more and more of state capture and the obscene amounts of money that have been pilfered from the state by our own politicians and the Guptas, it is clear that the Mugabes are not unique.
So may the Mugabes be a warning to each one of us of how easily a few people in leadership can cause the destruction of a country.
May we remove those who are part of bleeding our state coffers dry, before we also have to watch our little babies lie naked on wooden tables. News24 encourages freedom of speech and the expression of diverse views.
The views of columnists published on News24 are therefore their own and do not necessarily represent the views of News
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