By Daniel Chigundu
Parliamentary Portfolio Committee on Health and Child Care says former first-lady Grace Mugabe was reluctant to join other African First Ladies in the fight against the menacing cancer.
Cancer has reportedly surpassed HIV/Aids as the number one killer-disease in the country and African continent owing to the cost of its treatment and equipment needed.
Zimbabwe with an estimated 14 million has only two cancer treatment centres at Mpilo Hospital in Bulawayo and Parirenyatwa Hospital in Harare.
Speaking in the National Assembly during a debate on the Committee fact finding mission report to Zambia, Gutu South legislator Paul Chimedza revealed that they failed to get through to Grace Mugabe on cancer issues.
“I am glad that the Speaker has taken cancer very seriously. I had the privilege of travelling with him to Kenya on Stop Cervical Cancer which is championed by the First Ladies of Africa. I am glad our First Lady is here. I know that she can run with this very well.
“Unfortunately, we had failed to get through to the former First Lady and the Committee had resolved to go to State House to talk to her about this – because we had gone to Namibia and Kenya, all the other First Ladies were there and she was not there.
“They are doing great work on cancer. If you go to Zambia, when we went there, the person who was on the forefront promoting the issue was the First Lady of Zambia. In succession, the previous First Lady was also very active and the new First Lady is also very active. They have done wonders in Zambia, they have a whole department from Directors to Deputy Directors in the Ministry, they have a stand-alone Department for cancer,” he said.
According to Chimedza at a time Grace Mugabe was entangling herself with factional fights other First-ladies for example in Zambian they were busy building referral hospitals in Lusaka and they are building cancer hospitals in each district. They are providing cancer services from radiotherapy, diagnosis, treatment free of charge.
Grace Mugabe was well-known globally for being a top-of the-drawer shopper which has earned her the nickname Gucci Grace.
Her only known charity work was donating confiscated second-hand clothes and food to Danhiko and an over-publicised orphanage in Mazowe.
Meanwhile, Honourable Chimedza has also blamed Parliament for casting a blind eye on cancer issues and implored the August House to emulate what is happening Zambia.
He said MPs in Zambia have mobilised their resources and directed them towards fighting cancer because they have understood its effects adding that threat and that “we are seeing that happening in this country. Cancer is killing people like flies but we have not focused like we did when we focused on HIV and we became a celebrated model.
“People are coming from Uganda and all countries to see how we established the National Aids Fund and how it is now best practice in the region. We can still do that with cancer and blood transfusion,” he said.
Speaking on the same debate, Glen View North legislator Fani Munengami urged Honourable Mnangagwa to do better than Grace Mugabe and be involved in the fight against cancer as is being done by other first-ladies on the continent.
“…because of the new dispensation which has just happened here in our country, we have got a new First Lady, Hon. Amai Mnangagwa. I think if you heard from what Hon. Mahiya has just said in as far as what other First Ladies in Africa are doing in as far as combating the cancer disease.
“…our aim as Parliament or Zimbabweans is for her to take a leading role in as far as this issue is concerned, and I think she has heard about it,” he said.
By Daniel Chigundu