A cross-section of Zimbabweans have taken to social media platform site X (formerly Twitter) to vent their frustration over the move by President Emmerson Mnangagwa to direct Treasury to fund Thokozani Khupe’s cancer treatment in India.
While others have commended the government for the gesture, citizens say cancer treatment should be readily available at public hospitals and affordable for all those who need it.
Khupe is a former Deputy Prime Minister (2009-2013) and currently a CCC proportional representation legislator.
Some Zimbabweans who shared their thoughts on social media about the development bemoaned the country’s dilapidated health system which has resulted in countless avoidable deaths as the majority of citizens cannot afford to seek treatment abroad.
Only political and business elites, and those connected to the elites can fund trips to South Africa, India, Singapore and China, among other countries for medical care.
An X user, Bvudzijena asked “Ko Mary Mubaiwa?” (what about Marry Mubaiwa?) in reference to Vice President Constantino Chiwenga’s ex-wife who was allegedly blocked from travelling to South Africa for medical treatment and eventually had her right arm amputated.
A specialist trauma and orthopaedic surgeon, Dr John Nyahunzvi, recommended amputation for Marry’s right hand above her elbow due to severe sepsis syndrome, non-healing ulcer and chronic osteomyelitis.
She is currently being tried for attempted murder after she allegedly tried to pull out an intravenous life-saving tube from her then husband, VP Chiwenga, at a South African hospital in 2018.
Respected journalist and filmmaker Hopewell Chin’ono said:
"There is NO single working radiotherapy cancer treatment machine in all public hospitals in Zimbabwe.
Ordinary citizens are dying daily from treatable cancer because politicians have looted public funds meant to buy these machines.
Political Elites fly out, what about the poor?"
Skilled Rebhara said: “For the last 5 years there has been no working radiotherapy machine in the public health sector. many patients are being diagnosed with cancer vodii. why can’t they just buy the radiotherapy machine!!”
Privilledge Mhlanga wrote: “Before, during and after. The narrative stays the same. Dr Khupe is only helped because she is known. If Dr Khupe had not participated in politics like the majority, I think she would not have been assisted. Let us work to build a better country for all. Quick recovery Dr Khupe.“
Tete Aunty said: “I lost my brother to cancer because he is not politically connected.“
Pepukai Maringe wrote: “An ordinary person like Thomas Madirativhange will be waving goodbye to friends and relatives as a result because he is too far away to be recognizes for assistance.“
Kudakwashe Sibanda said: “Good for Makhuphe, but what about others?“
Habibi said: “All the funds being used to finance this medical tourism can be channelled to purchasing a radiotherapy machine.“
Khupe was initially diagnosed with breast cancer in 2011 and had to undergo treatment and surgery.
In response to her own experience, she established the Thokozani Khupe Cancer Foundation (TKCF) in 2012, aiming to raise awareness about cancer.
She highlights the urgency of early detection and the lack of awareness surrounding cancer, as many women continue to lose their lives to the disease.