ZANE - Zimbabwe Action for National Emergency

ZANE ONLINE BRIEFING 17th OCTOBER 2021

The ZANE briefing online was introduced by Lord Hastings of Carisbrook with speakers Tom Benyon (CEO), MDC minister David Coltart,  HMA Melanie Robinson UK Ambassador to Zimbabwe, Dr Rick Gardner Orthopaedic Surgeon at the new Bulawayo Children’s Hospital and Cathy a field worker in Zimbabwe  whose work for ZANE is only possible through her anonymity. 

This briefing was entitled “Zimbabwe in Crisis” and although it was remarked “when is it not” – a reflection of the long term nature of country’s difficulties -  the choice of title drew attention to the effects of COVID and the build-up to the 2023 elections.   However, the briefing did start on the optimistic note that is the new Bulawayo Children’s Hospital and it did highlight the useful work that ZANE is doing on the ground.

ZANE'S WORK

ZANE engages in a range of education and health care programmes, all of which meet the criteria of sustainability for at least 10 years.  ZANE has a fully functional social services network and their field worker referred to, as an example of the level of need and the practical nature of ZANE’s intervention, an elderly couple whose savings and pension had been decimated by way of inflation and who could not meet the costs in cash and in US dollars  of medical intervention.  This included the cost of  COVID tests needed for hospital entry..   The field worker spoke of blood shortage and of the woman being tasked by the hospital  to somehow in the middle of the night find and pay for the 3 pints of blood for her husband needed.   ZANE provided financial and social support, paying for what they could and putting together payment plans involving a  network of family, friends and community.

THE UK ambassador to Zimbabwe spoke of the embassy partnership with ZANE in tackling COVID needs. While Zimbabwe has not been as badly hit by COVID as Europe, there was a severe Covid wave in July which compounded with the   economic vulnerability of the people to push towards a crisis point.   Together with ZANE and using ZANE social networks, the UK government has been able to provide protection and some treatment facilities to 37 care homes; also packages of food and care to some of those individuals in the community who have been identified as particularly vulnerable    

CHILDREN'S HOSPITAL

The Bulawayo children’s hospital with its links to CURE International, and ZANE’s club foot programme has recently opened This once derelict infection disease hospital has over the past few years been converted into a teaching hospital for children with orthopaedic needs.  An estimated 300,000 children are currently living with treatable conditions such as neglected club foot, bowed legs and knock knees; also fused fingers, and chronic bone infections.  Dr Rick Gardner, Chief Medical Officer, talked about the need for timely intervention for club foot and dislocated hips  and for holistic approaches to the understanding of disability  Since the hospital’s opening in April 2021 with 13 beds, 3 operating theatres and an outpatient clinic, surgery has been offered to 200 children and outpatient appointments to 360.  There are at present 400 on the waiting list.  Regardless of complexity there are no financial barriers to treatment.   Families are encouraged to offer what they can, be it a box of eggs or, in the case of those with the means, a financial donation.  

CURE is a non profit Christian organization that operates a global network of 8 hospitals.  As with all CURE hospitals there is an emphasis in the Bulawayo on training staff with a view to expanding the service and on considering the spiritual needs of families by way of sensitive and flexible approaches to disability and treatment.  

UPDATE ON THE ECONOMY AND SOCIAL CONDITIONS

The Covid wave in July has added to the economic pressures and the point was made that the international community, caught up with its own C’OVID concerns, has been increasing distracted from Zimbabwe’s crisis.  Since March the Zimbabwe dollar has fallen from 110 to 175 in relation to the US dollar.  There continues to be issues with teachers, doctors and nurses not receiving viable salaries and in many instances not being able to afford the transport costs of getting to work.  This continues to impact on the re opening of schools.. 

  In late June a foreign exchange auction trading system was announced.  However, the Reserve Bank has a priority list which critics say favours large and successful businesses and can be open to corruption.  Corruption is an issue of increasing concern in Zimbabwe as is the question of human rights.  The Patriotic Bill soon to go through parliament means a prison sentence for any criticism of the government.  In the run up to the 2023 elections there has been an increase in the detention of activists and an increase in violence towards the opposition, including an assassination attempt.  Attention was drawn to the appointment of a chief justice in controversial circumstances and the effect this could potentially have on future election results.

In relation to the 2023 election the point was made that the president was in his 80s, the leader of the opposition in his 40s and the average age In Zimbabwe was 19.  Not only does this reflect on the extreme nature of the poverty in Zimbabwe but it gives rise to the possibility of a fiercely fought election.  

IN CONCLUSION

The briefing ended with an appeal to contribute to ZANE who, as had been demonstrated, are doing valuable work in meeting the basic needs of the most vulnerable within Zimbabwe. 

They need our help and you can donate here