Harare – Some of Zimbabwe’s hospitals may be without life-saving drugs – but President Robert Mugabe‘s government still has the cash to spend nearly $1m on a fleet of new vehicles for the police.
Worse still, the police chief has reportedly made it clear the shiny new cars will be used in the clampdown against “the shameful agents of the tired crusade of illegal regime change”. In other words, anti-government protesters.
The official Herald online published pictures on Wednesday of some of the new vehicles, which are reported to include 25 Ford Ranger pickups and 28 traffic enforcement cars.
Police Commissioner Augustine Chihuri said the vehicles would help officers “in dealing with merchants and architects of the wave of violence currently threatening national security,” the Herald reported.
‘Perpetrators of corruption’
Restless Zimbabwe is in the grip of worsening cash shortages ahead of the introduction of ‘bond notes’, new local banknotes that the central bank insists will work as a substitute for US. Many fear they will in fact fuel inflation and shortages.
Responding to the new cars, one Twitter user said: “This is what nervousness does. They feel threatened now. Good for them.” Journalist @zenzele suggested the purchase meant Zanu-PF was “ready for 2018”, when elections are due. Mugabe plans to stand again in those polls. He will be 94.
Outspoken Zimbabwe advocate Fadzayi Mahere commented on Facebook: “I thought the country had no money to buy antibiotics and other essential medication for Harare Hospital?”
Harare Hospital was hit by a critical shortage of anaesthetics and other drugs last month, leading it to briefly suspend all but emergency and ICU procedures. The Chronicle newspaper in Bulawayo reported on Tuesday that Mpilo Central and Ingutsheni hospitals had also been hit by drug shortages because of “funding challenges”.
Transparency International Zimbabwe said in its latest annual report this week that police were among the worst “perpetrators of corruption” in the southern African country.