Justice Minister Emmerson Mnangagwa, who is also leader of the House, told Warren Park legislator Elias Mudzuri that people were not expected to go around naked asking for help just because they were poor.
He was responding to questions from the Mudzuri, a senior member of the Movement for Democratic Change and former mayor of Harare, who had asked what the government was doing about children and those aged above 70 who were failing to get treatment at hospitals because they did not have money.
Mnangagwa said government had a duty to look after these vulnerable groups but was no able to because of sanctions which Mudzuri’s party had called for.
Things were, however, likely to improve with the wave of investments from Russia and China which were witnessed recently.
Mudzuri then asked whether it was all right for the government to buy vehicles while people had no medication or to allow parastatals heads to earn hefty salaries?
“I am grateful for the hon. member’s word, that if it were him, who when he has poverty would walk around naked because he is poor. Poverty you might have but you cannot walk around unclothed,” Mnangagwa responded.
“You would remember, during the time of the liberation war, we would go and source for support. We approached certain friends to assist us, and informed them that there was no food or clothes in the war front. A certain old woman then said that ‘but you are dressed,’ and we said, were you expecting us to come here to request for assistance in our nudity.”
Q & A:
ENG. MUDZURI: Thank you Mr. Speaker Sir. My question goes to the Leader of Government. I wanted to – [HON. MEMBERS: Inaudible interjections.] –
MR. SPEAKER: Order hon. members, do not drown another hon. member when asking a question. Can the hon. member be heard in silence please?
ENG. MUDZURI: Thank you Mr. Speaker Sir. My question is now directed to the Minister of Justice, Legal and Parliamentary Affairs, as Leader of the House. I wanted to direct it to the Minister of Finance and Economic Development, but since he is here, I will direct it to Hon. Mnangagwa.
What is Government’s policy and efforts to assist children who are finding themselves failing to get treatment in hospitals because of lack of finance and elders who are above 70 years of age who are failing to access hospital services because of lack of funding? There is a lot which is going on and our Constitution gives every citizen a right to health. We know that our children do not have to make an application to be born, but when they are poor you find them stranded in hospitals, failing to pay bills. Our old people are failing to pay bills…
MR. SPEAKER: Order hon. member. The Hon. Minister of Health and Child Care is not here. Perhaps hon. Leader of Government Business can try to answer the question.
*THE MINISTER OF JUSTICE, LEGAL AND PARLIAMENTARY AFFAIRS (MR. MNANGAGWA): Thank you Hon. Speaker Sir. The hon. member spoke both in English and Shona, I will do the same. I think the hon. member is correct that Government has a duty to make sure that the children of this Republic are looked after. To do so, we need resources to fulfil that noble duty. I am glad that the hon. member has spoken and asked the question of importance which is at the heart of the ruling party. What you have mentioned about the elderly who are no longer able to look after themselves is at the core of our heart. As Government, it is our wish to be able to fulfil the challenges that you have indicated.
The problem that we have is that our colleagues had committed an offence of inviting sanctions against this country. It is those sanctions that have caused us not to have resources and the power to do what you have suggested, which is a noble cause. You would observe that in the last two weeks, we were in Kariba and there was a creation of wealth and yesterday there was a greater wonder. It was an awesome thing, yesterday we had US$3.2 billion friendship deals with our Russian friends so as to bust these sanctions with our friends. I am happy that there are some within the opposition, who want the welfare of the children and elderly to be improved.
*MR. MUDZURI: I am grateful about the response given by the Minister, but the sanctions that the Minister is referring to; are they in tandem with vehicles which the Government is buying at the moment when people do not have medication? Is that in line with the salaries or heavy packages which are being withdrawn in the parastatals as compared to the needs of the elderly and the children?
*MR. MNANGAGWA: I am grateful for the hon. member’s word, that if it were him, who when he has poverty would walk around naked because he is poor. Poverty you might have but you cannot walk around unclothed. You would remember, during the time of the liberation war, we would go and source for support. We approached certain friends to assist us, and informed them that there was no food or clothes in the war front. A certain old woman then said that ‘but you are dressed,’ and we said, were you expecting us to come here to request for assistance in our nudity.
This hon. member is suggesting that we should be naked because we are poor or we have certain challenges. No, that should not be the case. I remember that he also knows about the challenges because he is the one who invited these sanctions.