UTTERANCES by Information secretary Ndavaningi Mangwana accusing doctors of deliberately killing Zanu-PF politicians and blaming their deaths on the coronavirus cannot go unchallenged.
We are used to politicians having foot-in-mouth moments, and it appears that Mangwana certainly developed a serious case of Trumpian fingers, emptying his ill-thought vitriol onto a public forum against health workers that are at the forefront of fighting the contagious virus.
Doctors in this country are on record decrying poor remuneration and the risks they are taking to fight COVID-19, mainly without adequate personal protective equipment (PPE).
As of Sunday evening, there were 99,3 million cases of infections globally, with 2,13 million deaths while Zimbabwe recorded 31 320 cases and 1 005 deaths. Many of these include health workers, whom government has railroaded into working without enough PPE or compensation.
They are putting their lives at risk to fight an enemy that threatens the very existence of humanity without fear or favour and takes no prisoners. At the very least, the health workers deserve our support in every form possible to lighten their burden.
Not only did Mangwana choose to trash their efforts, but likened them to a man who gained global notoriety during the Second World War as the Angel of Death, Josef Mengele.
According to some accounts, Mengele would casually select among the captured – mostly Jews – those who would live and those who were sent to die in the gas chambers at the Auschwitz concentration camp where he had been posted in May 1943.
Among those he granted life, he chose subjects for his infamous experiments. he would operate on children without anaesthetics, infect twins with tuberculosis and spotted fever and many of his victims died during the experiments.
A German historian wrote that Mengele had “boundless cynicism” that allowed him to see his victims not as human beings, but as “material that is already dead”.
To fight a disease outbreak at the concentration camp, he sent 600 Jewish women to their deaths in the gas chambers to create space for other disinfected prisoners.
That is the sort of person Mangwana likens to the doctors in this country who are soldiering on despite the odds stacked against them. The fact that most of the Zanu-PF politicians actually died in private institutions, being treated at facilities of their choice under the care of doctors to whom they had placed their confidence, escapes him.
The “how” those people came to be infected at a time the government itself has been championing the social distancing, masking up and a stay at home campaign for 10 months also did not influence his thinking.
But then, this is the same man who was happy to share pictures of himself cavorting with fellow political highflyers at the 60th birthday party for his boss, Monica Mutsvangwa, without a mask, no social distancing and then, with a straight face, claims to have observed all safety protocols at the event that, according to prevailing regulations, was essentially an illegal gathering.
It also beggars belief why Mangwana, a civil servant, is taking on the role of a political conspiracy theorist. Yes, we are aware that he has since apologised for his brain fade, but we just cannot let this go unchallenged. There are enough fools and conspiracy theorists on COVID-19 without him adding to them.
President Emmerson Mnangagwa realises the challenge the country is facing, that is why on Saturday he pointedly praised the fortitude shown by the frontline health workers. Mangwana, in all likelihood, missed the memo.