Hopewell Chin’ono, an anti-corruption journalist in Zimbabwe recently arrested for exposing the socialist government’s theft of coronavirus relief aid, said in an interview published Thursday that the ruling Zanu-PF party has never built a maternity ward at the nation’s largest hospital – even though 2,500 women a year die in childbirth.
Zanu-PF – a far-leftist party aligned with China, North Korea, and Cuba, among other rogue states – is the only political party to have ever ruled Zimbabwe, in power since the nation’s independence in 1980. Dictator Robert Mugabe, responsible for the Gukurahundi genocide campaign of the 1980s, ran the party until a coup overthrew him in 2017. Current Zimbabwean President Emmerson Mnangagwa was, prior to staging a coup against Mugabe, his right-hand man for decades and played a critical role in the genocide, according to Mugabe.
Chin’ono has described Mnangagwa’s rule as “worse than Mugabe.” The journalist was arrested and kept in prison for 45 days after publishing a series of reports showing that Mnangagwa’s regime was establishing shell corporations around the world to funnel emergency aid meant for Chinese coronavirus patients into their personal bank accounts. Meanwhile, Zimbabwe’s health workers, left with no personal protective equipment (PPE), were using bedsheets to block the virus.
Mnangagwa’s government claimed Chin’ono’s arrest was a response to his call for citizens to attend a peaceful protest against corruption, which it branded “inciting violence.” Police arrested opposition politician Jacob Ngarivhume along with Chin’ono.
As a result of Chin’ono’s reporting exposing his role in a $60 million corruption scheme involving coronavirus funds, former Zimbabwean Health Minister Obadiah Moyo resigned in June. He remains on the official government website as the nation’s health minister.
“Today, the former Minister of Health is walking in the streets. The state did not oppose bail when he was arrested. Yet the state spent 45 days opposing my bail, the person who had exposed the corruption,” Chin’ono noted in this week’s interview with Harvard’s Nieman Reports.
“The real reason why I was arrested is because, since May, I had been exposing the looting of Covid-19 [Chinese coronavirus] funds. I was doing this on Twitter and Facebook,” Chin’ono explained. “The regime was upset that I had talked about Emmerson Mnangagwa’s son … They started by saying that I am tarnishing the name of the president, I’m tarnishing the name of the First Family.”
“Then you looked at how much was set aside for Covid, PPEs [personal protective equipment], masks, and things like that. It was $60 million. It was being looted from the government by high-ranking government officials, including the then-minister of health,” he added. “This money was meant to buy masks for prisoners, for people in hospitals. It was meant to make sure that nurses had personal protective equipment for Covid, but they never got it.”
Chin’ono emphasized that the theft of funds meant to fight the pandemic was a continuation of an ongoing culture of corruption as old as the nation itself – not a sudden criminal outburst in response to a windfall meant for extraordinary circumstances.
“The corruption, as you asked, started at a local level in 1980 when we got our independence, and it became incremental,” he argued. “It reached a point where we have a diamond field, the biggest find [of diamonds] this century, yet if you go to that area, where that diamond field is located, in Chiadzwa in Mutare, the people do not even have clinics that are working.”
Regarding Zanu-PF’s failure to provide the extensive government services its socialist ideology would indicate, Chin’ono noted:
For instance, in Zimbabwe, the corruption is so bad that they buy Land Cruisers for Health Ministry officials, and yet, if you go to the biggest hospital in Zimbabwe, which is Harare Hospital, now called Sally Mugabe Hospital, you will find out that the only maternity theaters that are there at that hospital, which is the biggest in Zimbabwe, were built by the colonial government in 1977.
It’s only two that were built in 1977. There’s never been one built after that. Both of them are not working. You find that 2,500 Zimbabwean women die every year whilst giving birth. That’s the equivalent of over 15 jumbo jets crashing every year and killing pregnant Zimbabwean women, 2,500 of them. That’s how bad our corruption has become.
The situation Chin’ono depicts is common among socialist and communist nations. In Venezuela, for example, a chronic lack of medications under socialist dictator Nicolás Maduro has resulted in years of hospitals requesting that patients bring their own medicine and skyrocketing rates of amputations to curtail infections. The Cuban communist regime has blamed the United States for its own medicine shortage, although doctors who have defected from the regime’s medical slavery program say officials forced them to destroy usable medicine to falsify government statistics.
Mnangagwa boasted of Zimbabwe’s alleged progress in fighting the Chinese coronavirus pandemic before the United Nations General Assembly on Thursday, claiming to have passed a multi-million-dollar economic stimulus package to ease the harm caused by lockdowns. To the extent that he allowed for potentially faulty response to the outbreak, he blamed human rights sanctions on his regime.
In the past, Zanu-PF has also insisted it is working hard to fight corruption.
“The pandemic has had both positive and negative results. In responding to the pandemic, corruption has reared its ugly head. We continue to investigate corrupt activities and take swift action whenever such cases arise,” Mnangagwa reportedly said in July, according to the political party’s official website. “The global health emergency has revealed weaknesses relating to our health system that is, initially inability to handle the emergency due to inadequate equipment and medical supplies.”
Chin’ono called the president’s anti-corruption campaign “comical.”
“It is a smokescreen. It’s a comical attempt to fight corruption. Why I call it a comical attempt is that I exposed corruption, but Mnangagwa ordered my arrest, because I had tied it to his family. It shows that there is no interest by this regime in dealing with corruption,” the journalist argued.