File Photo – Hopewell Chin’ono right, and Jacob Ngarivhume left

Criticism Mounts Over Zimbabwe’s Helicopter Purchase Amidst Urgent Healthcare Needs

Harare, Zimbabwe (May 18, 2023) — The recent delivery of 18 helicopters from Russia to Zimbabwe has sparked controversy and drawn sharp criticism from award-winning journalist Hopewell Chin’ono. The helicopters, intended for use in the country’s health and security sectors, have been met with skepticism as Zimbabwe faces urgent healthcare needs and a struggling public health system.

Chin’ono, known for his investigative journalism and exposing corruption, took to Twitter to voice his concerns about the cost of the helicopters. In a scathing tweet, he compared the purchase price of the helicopters to the prices of popular models in the market. Chin’ono pointed out that the helicopters being procured by the Zimbabwean government are valued at an exorbitant $10 million each, a price that he claims constitutes “daylight robbery of public funds.”

“The world’s most popular helicopter, the Robinson R44, costs US$420,000 brand new, and only half that second-hand,” Chin’ono stated. “A top-of-the-range AgustaWestland Grand costs US$6 million. Yet here you are telling us that you are buying helicopters for US$10 million, real looting!”

The journalist further emphasized that Zimbabwe’s pressing healthcare needs, such as functioning radiotherapy machines, MRI machines, X-ray machines, maternity theaters, and adequate supplies of medicines in hospitals, should take precedence over the purchase of helicopters.

Critics argue that while helicopters can have their uses in specific scenarios, the allocation of such a substantial amount of public funds to this purchase raises questions about the government’s priorities. They assert that addressing the country’s healthcare system, which has long suffered from inadequate resources and infrastructure, should be the primary focus.

The delivery of the helicopters comes amidst a public-private partnership between Zimbabwe and Russia. The partnership aims to strengthen bilateral ties and improve the lives of Zimbabwean citizens. However, skeptics like Chin’ono question whether the purchase aligns with the immediate needs and aspirations of the Zimbabwean population.

As Chin’ono’s criticisms gain traction, it remains to be seen how the Zimbabwean government will respond to the growing discontent over the allocation of funds. Calls for greater transparency and accountability are expected to intensify, urging the government to reassess its spending priorities and address the pressing healthcare needs of the nation.

While the delivery of helicopters undoubtedly provides a boost to Zimbabwe’s air assets and emergency response capabilities, it remains to be seen whether this will appease the public, which seeks urgent improvements to the country’s healthcare infrastructure. The controversy surrounding this purchase underscores the ongoing challenges faced by the Zimbabwean government in balancing the allocation of resources amidst competing demands.

By Power

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