This week, I saw a video clip of Dr Azza Mashumba, head of the paediatrics division at the Parirenyatwa hospital, Zimbabwe, complaining about how government systems in the health care sector are costing lives.
Dr Mashumba broke down in tears when declaring that medical staff have been operating under an emergency mode due to the scarcity of drugs and other essential working equipment. One of those who commented on the video, posted on Twitter, implored President Emmerson Mnangagwa to do something about the health care sector for the sake of those who cannot afford to fly out of the country to get medical attention.
But my focus is not on Zimbabwe nor on health care, I merely used this anecdote to talk about how the poor in Africa get the raw end of the stick. This is regardless of whether it is in health care, education, crime and any other sector or segment of society.
Let’s look at crime. This week I received another social media video of a man dressed in what looks like a Massai outfit to conceal what looks like two lamb or goat carcasses.
In South Africa, social media is awash with clips of often desperate-looking women, some of whom are in their 50s and 60s, caught attempting to shoplift. In many cases, these Gogos are subjected to cruel assaults and humiliating treatment.
When it comes to these types of petty crimes, committed by often poor and desperate people looking for something to feed their families, police and law enforcement agents on the continent are swift and diligent. The perpetrators are often dealt with and an example is made of them. This often comes with a public parade by authorities of how serious they are with dealing with crime.
Now, let’s look at the other side… South Africa has been shocked, since mid-last year, with revelations of grand corruption used by politically connected criminals looting the people’s money with the help their enablers. These enablers are often elected or senior government officials entrusted to safeguard the people’s interests. Bombshell after bombshell, the storyline is the same, only the names of the characters have been changing. The story is that the people’s money has been gifted to greedy criminals dressed in suits purporting to be businesspeople. The thieving often comes disguised as procurement contracts or some social project aimed at improving the lives of the poor. But the poor never benefit and the money evaporates into thin air, maybe to form the clouds of corruption hanging over the African continent.
As each bombshell reveals, no one is held responsible. Law enforcement agents look the other way, besides they are too busy persecuting the poor. Next door in Namibia, newspaper headlines have been revealing how politically connected Zimbabwean nationals robbed the country’s poor of close to R400 million in what was supposed to be a bank to serve the poor and those being turned away by the big commercial banks.
In all these, authorities have refused to go after the criminals in suits, but rather arresting those stealing bread because their children’s lives are dependent on it.
It is a documented fact that the correlation between poverty and crime is real. People are left destitute and desperate because those responsible for uplifting their lives are stealing from them. It is the same elite who protect each other when they are caught with their hands in the proverbial cookie jar. Money aimed at delivering services, as a result, creating jobs to the poor and their needs has been stolen in broad daylight, forcing them to live undignified lives. And, to add insult to injury, we are quick to mortify them and ensuring they are not seen in public. Yet we celebrate the thieves in suits, whom we all praise when they drive down our streets, in church and at family gatherings, without a shred of shame.
Think about it as I ask you again, why does Africa hate the commoner and the poor?