Dear Government of Zimbabwe,
I want you to see the faces of children whose lives you’ve destroyed. Through mismanagement and corruption, you’ve deprived them of basic human needs.
I met them not so long ago – shook their hands, laughed with them. I looked into Sylvia’s eyes…
When Sylvia’s (named changed) parents, aunts, and uncles died, their children’s only recourse – move in with Grandma and Grandpa. Then Grandpa died. Grandma’s only option – relocate as a squatter to nearby farm land and build a mud hut, eke out subsistence day by day. Sadly, some of her grandchildren now battle the same disease that wiped out their parents’ generation. They need healthcare, of course. But instead of supporting even basic medical needs for kids like Sylvia, you arrest nurses for protesting shamefully low wages and lack of equipment in a shattered system: Amnesty international article, France24 article.
Did you not see recent international reports broadcasting just one symptom of endemic malfunction? Seven babies stillborn in one night! France24 article.
More fundamental even than access to a doctor, kids like Sylvia need proper nutrition for medication efficacy, much less survival. But if Sylvia eats a little sadza every day (cornmeal mixed with water), she’s lucky.
Before Covid19 hit, half your population (more than 7 million people!) already needed food aid according to the World Food Programme. Huge numbers are impossible to comprehend, so let me make it simple. Sylvia is one data point in that half population statistic.
As if food shortages are not enough, your citizens lack even basic access to water and sanitation: Human Rights Watch article.
The pandemic only compounded terrible pre-existing suffering. But not only did your health minister extend no mercy to kids like Sylvia, he grafted Covid19 resources for his own benefit! Aljazeera article.
Many of your citizens who love children like Sylvia rise up in protest. You use coronavirus as an excuse to suppress them further. United Nations article.
I want you to know we are watching. Not only human rights organizations, but ordinary world citizens like me. I read international news. I know the truth.
Your citizens plan demonstrations for next week. They’ve reached their breaking point. According to the BBC, reporting on July 19, “More than 100,000 people have been arrested in Zimbabwe since March for violating regulations aimed at curbing the spread of coronavirus.” You’ve gone too far, and their suffering exceeds their fear of your oppressive regime.
I stand in spirit with these brave people. They cry out for relief. Their bellies ache with hunger and untreated illnesses wrack their bodies. From their ravaged lives they rise up and scream, “Enough!” I hear them.
But, even more than the dire situation driving Zimbabwean adults to the streets, the suffering of innocent children like Sylvia overwhelms us with outrage.
Be warned, the world will be watching how you respond next week.