Zimbabwe’s new finance minister has taken to Twitter to ask for donations to help the government fight cholera that has killed at least 25 people and made thousands of others ill.
In a tweet Mthuli Ncube, who took his oath of office on Monday, said the emergency crowdfund would “further efforts to fight cholera to date”.
Cholera broke out in Harare’s western suburb of Glen View last week, triggering an emergency response by the government and international aid agencies.
The finance minister’s tweet generated a lot of criticism from Zimbabweans. Some pointed out that the government always manages to find official funds to purchase cars for VIPs or fund overseas travel.
“Does the right to life mean nothing at all to this new administration? If you can’t prioritize funding public health in the midst of a crisis, we are going nowhere very quickly. This is an insult,” said lawyer and independent politician, Fadzayi Mahere in a tweet.
MDC MP for Harare’s Kuwadzana East constituency, Chalton Hwende tweeted in response to the minister’s request: “What kind of nonsense is this? Your Government chartered a plan for Grace to attend a funeral now 25 poor people have died all you can do is crowd funding?”
Grace Mugabe was flown back to Zimbabwe earlier this month from Singapore in a luxury private jet to attend her mother’s funeral, but the government denied public funds were used.
Others on social media suggested that in light of the cholera crisis, MDC MPs elected in July to Zimbabwe’s new parliament should lead the way by foregoing perks like luxury vehicles that they’re entitled to.
In a tweeted response to Hwende, Tinashe Vuso said: “We kindly ask you and your party MPs to forgo those cars if you indeed care for the masses, after all it’s MDC supporters who are mostly affected by cholera.”
On Friday, the private Daily News claimed that the government is set to spend about R300million which amounts to $20 million to buy new cars for newly-elected MPs and senators.