FIRST Lady Auxillia Mnangagwa this Wednesday visited Harare Central Hospital unannounced and pretended to be a patient as she sought to experience first-hand the quality of service at the institution.
Wearing a simple African print attire and head gear, the wife Zimbabwe’s new president went through the normal process patients visiting the hospital for the first time endure which is characterised by long queues, as well as shouting by rude and unmoved hospital staff.
She also visited the children’s and elderly people’s wards.
Public broadcaster ZTV flighted the poor-quality video of her visit in which she can be seen in a queue and then talking to patients without the staff recognising her.
Mnangagwa’s visit broke with a long-established tradition where tours by public officials to such institutions are usually pre-scheduled red-carpet events.
The country’s severely underfunded health sector is among the worst affected by a two-decade economic crisis leaving constitutional guarantees to health for the citizens a pipe dream.
State hospitals are characterised by poor service delivery, drug shortages, obsolete equipment and low employee morale as the staff struggle to cope with poor salaries and unsafe working environments.
On the other hand, patients visiting these institutions are largely impoverished and unable to pay for services.
However, President Emmerson Mnangagwa said, in his inaugural speech, indicated that it will not be business as usual for civil servants as he sprints to achieve significant changes ahead of harmonised elections next year.