ZAKA Central Member of Parliament Paradzai Chakona has called on the government to allow the setting up of private pharmacies after his mother died at Ndanga District Hospital because it did not have a glucometer which costs only $60.
A glucometer is a glucose meter which measures the sugar in one’s blood and is a key element in monitoring diabetes.
“I would like to mention that I lost my mother at Ndanga District Hospital just because they did not have a glucometer, which under normal circumstances costs US$60 here in Harare. If I had access to buy that machine at that point in time, I could have saved my mother’s life. I also lost my own son almost at the same time just because a hospital failed to test his CD4 count,” Chakona said.
Chakona said people were losing lives unnecessarily because hospitals did not have medication or basic equipment .
“My proposal is that at every government hospital, if it is possible, let us allow private people to set up pharmacies so that whatever is not available at the hospital, at least somebody can rush and buy that at the pharmacy and save a life.”
Chakona also said every referral hospital should have a ward for war veterans instead of having only one hospital for war veterans in Harare.
He also said the Zimbabwe National Roads Authority should find a better way of maintaining roads in rural areas instead of disbursing funds to rural district councils because they were misusing the money.
“I also noted that whilst ZINARA is doing a sterling job in disbursing money for road maintenance to rural district councils, citing as an example our own rural district council, we have a total of about 140 000 kilometres of dirty road in my constituency,” he said. “When I calculated the diesel that is required to grade those kilometres, it comes to 7 500 litres. When you translate that in momentary terms, it works out to slightly above $8 000. So far, our rural district council has received $48 000 from ZINARA. If I divide this by four constituencies in our district, it works to $12 000 per constituency.
“I want to tell you Mr. Speaker that half, if not less than a quarter of that money, has actually been disbursed towards road maintenance. In that regard, I am calling upon ZINARA to look for a better way of actually dealing with road maintenance, instead of giving that money to rural district councils because I believe they are not putting that money to good use and I think there is a better way of doing it.”
MR. CHAKONA: Thank you for giving me the opportunity to debate on this motion by Hon. Mutomba. Firstly, I would like to express my condolences to the Mahlangu and Tsogorani families that lost our dear honourables.
I would also like to thank the President for addressing us and for his astute leadership of this country. In his address, I have a few things that I feel need to highlight. Firstly in terms of health, because of the sanctions that this country is experiencing, the health sector is heavily under-funded. I would like to mention that most health care facilities are running short of medication and equipment mostly to carry out certain tests that are specific to certain diseases. I would like to mention that I lost my mother at Ndanga District Hospital just because they did not have a glucometer, which under normal circumstances costs US$60 here in Harare. If I had access to buy that machine at that point in time, I could have saved my mother’s life.
I also lost my own son almost at the same time just because a hospital failed to test his CD4 count. These are practical examples that we see in the health sector and this is continuing on a daily basis. If you visit Parirenyatwa or Gomo (Harare Central) Hospital right now, it is exactly the same thing. We are losing lives; people who are supposed to be alive are dying. My proposal is that at every Government hospital,if it is possible, let us allow private people to set up pharmacies so that whatever is not available at the hospital, at least somebody can rush and buy that at the pharmacy and save a life.
The President spoke about the construction of a hospital for veterans of the liberation struggle. However, this hospital is going to be based here in Harare. If you look at it, our war veterans are dotted throughout the country and my proposal is that at every district hospital, we set up a ward which specifically looks after the interests of the war veterans. I say so because most referral hospitals have a ward for the military personnel, which means if a soldier falls ill he/she is admitted into a military ward. I am proposing that we use the same facility for the veterans of the liberation struggle.
One other thing that I have also noted is that as much as war veterans are getting pensions for their role during the liberation struggle, the collaborators and some detainees are not receiving anything to that effect. I am therefore proposing that in line with the new Constitution which now recognises the three arms of our liberation struggle, that is the war veterans, detainees and the collaborators as veterans of the liberation struggle, that they also receive a token of appreciation by way of a pension for their role during the liberation struggle.
Madam Speaker, I come from Masvingo province and I drive every week to Masvingo and to my constituency in Zaka. Veld fires are basically wreaking havoc on an annual basis and this menace is continuing unabated. I saw this other day that anybody who starts a veld fire should be sentenced to 5 years compulsory imprisonment without an option of a fine. However, since I have seen these veld fires developing at any stage, I have never heard of anybody who has been arrested and tried despite the rampant commencement of these fires destroying vast tracks of land, vegetation, animals, people and also sustainable livelihood of people. In that regard, I would like to call upon the Environmental Management Agency (EMA) to do something to stop this ecological catastrophe that continues to destroy our environment.
Mr. Speaker, we have got a very sound policy in education which stipulates that no child failing to pay school fees should be sent back home. However, in my constituency only 25% of the pupils pay school fees. Last night, I was watching television and I saw Hon. Beremauro at a school, and it was reported that only 33% of the pupils at that school pay school fees. I would like to call upon the Ministry of Primary and Secondary Education to find something that they can do to encourage parents to pay school fees. There is no development in schools with a lot of hot-sitting, infrastructure dilapidation; a lot of schools’ roofs are blown off especially during the coming season where a lot of schools may lose roofs simply because of lack of maintenance and the only way schools can be maintained is when fees are paid, and headmasters have access to funds to maintain infrastructure as well as expanding that same infrastructure.
Mr. Speaker, I said I am from Masvingo Province. We have the Beitbridge-Chirundu road, which has been on the cards for a long time. I am glad that the Minister of Transport and Infrastructural Development responsible for roads is in this House. On a weekly basis, as we drive to Masvingo, we see and experience a lot of accidents and it is by the grace of the Lord that none of the Members of Parliament has actually been involved in an accident over the past three years that we have been coming here. However, I would like to over-emphasise that the dualisation of this road Mr. Speaker Sir, is a must and it is actually way behind schedule.
I also noted that whilst ZINARA is doing a sterling job in disbursing money for road maintenance to rural district councils, citing as an example our own rural district council, we have a total of about 140 000 kilometres of dirty road in my constituency. When I calculated the diesel that is required to grade those kilometres, it comes to 7 500 litres. When you translate that in momentary terms, it works out to slightly above $8 000. So far, our rural district council has received $48 000 from ZINARA. If I divide this by four constituencies in our district, it works to $12 000 per constituency. I want to tell you Mr. Speaker that half, if not less than a quarter of that money, has actually been disbursed towards road maintenance. In that regard, I am calling upon ZINARA to look for a better way of actually dealing with road maintenance, instead of giving that money to rural district councils because I believe they are not putting that money to good use and I think there is a better way of doing it.
Mr. Speaker Sir, there is an issue to do with network coverage when it comes to ICT. The ICT sector is the fastest growing sector in the world including Zimbabwe. In that regard, people are now using more and more modern methods of communication for several uses such as communicating, for monetary transactions, purposes of downloading or accessing information for educational purposes, business, medical and et cetera. However, I am from a rural constituency where certain areas in my constituency do not have access to network and it could be any of the three network operators. However, we also have the Universal Services Fund (USF) which every network operator subscribes to POTRAZ so that the money can be used to build towers for use by network operators in such areas as my constituency. For the past three years or even before I became a Member of Parliament, we have not seen one tower constructed using USF in our district. I do not know about other districts. I am therefore calling upon POTRAZ to do something in terms of rolling out base stations using the Universal Services Fund so that rural communities can also have access to network and ICT services.
Whilst we are on that sector Mr. Speaker, the ICT sector worldwide, governments are doing everything possible to put legislation and statutory instruments that promote the growth of the sector as it is the fastest growing sector as we speak. However, here, there is no engagement between players and Government so that the enabling legislation, as well as statutory instruments can be put in place so that it promotes the growth of that particular sector because it is the fastest growing and is supposed to be creating more employment. Unfortunately, as we witnessed a few weeks back when the notorious three months notice judgment was passed in the High Court, a number of network operators actually had to downsize instead of increasing labour. This is all as a result of the kind of legislation or policies that we are putting in place which are not user friendly to the ICT sector. I am therefore calling upon this Third Session to look closely at the policies or laws that may affect the ICT sector so that it grows instead of shrinking.
One good example Mr. Speaker Sir is the reduction in tariffs, which is a welcome development to users but however, it needed to be in line with operational costs which are prevailing at this point in time and also the emergency of OTT services that are actually dominating the ICT sector at the moment. At the same time, we also needed to take cognisance of the developments that are taking place in the ICT sector worldwide.
My constituency lies in region 5 and 6, and last year we had below normal rainfall which resulted in a number of families harvesting very little and in some instances, nothing at all. At this stage, as I am here right now, a lot of families have run out of food and we are therefore calling upon Government to basically look, especially at the vulnerable groups and the under privileged so that they have access to food to avert starvation in our constituencies.
Mr. Speaker, I watched with a lot of excitement the Labour Act as it passed through this Parliament. I did not have an opportunity to debate on the motion. However, since it was mentioned by the President and in his own words he said, we did not extensively consult the employees and the employers. I believe the issue of employment is one that is between an employer and an employee and we needed to take our time to listen to these two groups so that we come up with a conclusive and effective labour law.
Mr. Speaker, Botswana, South Africa and Zambia are our neighbours……
THE TEMPORARY SPEAKER: Order, order hon. member, you are left with five minutes.
MR. CHAKONA: Thank you, I believe we needed to scrutinize our neighbours’ Labour Acts so that we come up with a hybrid that addresses the needs and requirements of the employer as well as the employee, et cetera. So I believe that this has to be revisited.
Mr. Speaker, in my province we also have the Chingwizi crisis and I stand to believe that most of the resolutions to this crisis hinge around Government that is not availing land and facilities for the final resettlement of those people. I am calling upon Government, at this stage, to really look at the plight of the people in Chingwizi who are more than suffering.
In conclusion Mr. Speaker, the word “sanctions” has been spoken on several occasions and others have also come up with different terms to describe this animal called sanctions. I believe at this stage, in this Third Session of this Parliament, it is time for the people of Zimbabwe to once upon a time speak with one voice. We have felt, seen and realised the effects of sanctions as they have ravaged through this economy and country. A lot of our people are now suffering as a result of sanctions.
Mr. Speaker, we are having problems in the health and manufacturing sectors. A lot of hon. members have been talking about reviving the Bulawayo industries but even if we are to revive industry, how are we going to run it without electricity? How are we going to run it when there are sanctions around us? How are those people going to trade internationally when there are sanctions around them? I hear a lot of members from Bulawayo making so much noise about the revival of industry. The revival of industry can only be effected when sanctions are lifted and are not part of this nation.
It is my final call that as Members of Parliament, let us speak with one voice on this matter that is supposed to unite us as the people of Zimbabwe. Thank you, Mr. Speaker.