What Zimbabwe legislators said about traditional medicine- Edwin Mushoriwa


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HON. MUSHORIWA: Thank you Madam Speaker.  I want to add just one or two words to the report by the Portfolio Committee on Health.  The topic under discussion is a reminder for us Zimbabweans; there is a saying globally that if you want to take a case study of how to colonize a country, you have to visit Zimbabwe.  We are the most colonized country in the world. For us to be having this debate more than 40 years after independence, it tells you Madam Speaker that what we have done over the past 40 years, we have not done what we said we wanted to do when we went to the liberation war.

What we intended to do was to bring back Zimbabwe that has been taken over by force.  If you check from 1980, we have actually been competing to outshine the Europeans in their own game.  We have been competing to simply say we are the best in probably speaking English or doing other things that do not really add value.  I will give you a good example in terms of the COVID-19 vaccine.  I know it is now a fashionable thing to simply say ‘have you been vaccinated’.  Most of our people prefer to be vaccinated by a vaccine that they do not know anything about.  They shy away from our traditional medicine.  I know for a fact that for some of us, we are proud to take traditional medicine, traditional medicine does not necessarily mean that one has to go to a n’anga.  Traditional medicine is out there; all our tradition has taught us that this tree, this shrub and this grass cures this and that disease.

The mere fact that we have got a Ministry of Health in 2021 which does not allocate funds towards the budget for traditional medicine shows you that Zimbabwe is not yet in World Health Organisation.  We have not reached a stage as a country where we are proud of being Africans, where we are proud of our tradition and proud of being great Zimbabweans, we have not reached that stage.  I listened to Hon. Masango when she was doing the report. My only misgiving on the report was to say we need a perception to say the Committee also chat with a number of herbalists who are dotted around the country.

I know for instance in my constituency, we have a garden where we grow traditional medicines and we are using those medicines to cure people from various ills, including the recent COVID-19 infection. We did not hear the report telling us the challenges that our herbalists are actually facing in this process.  Our fear Madam Speaker is that there is deliberate policy in the Ministry of Health where our traditional medicine is being stolen during the night and going out there and being patterned in other countries where those drugs then come as if they have been manufactured in Europe, America or Asia whereas that medication will be coming from Africa.

I think what is crucial and what is important, next time when the budget is presented before Parliament, there is need for the Portfolio Committee on Health to scrutinize the health budget, and find out how much has been allocated to traditional medicines.  More importantly Madam Speaker, there was the Hon. Member who spoke from Chipinge, he was correct to simply say we do have the medication.  It is not about research, it is not about taking our medication and putting it in a laboratory. What is important is that the only research that is needed is to simply say when I take zumbani what quantity should I take in the morning, afternoon and evening and what should be a course of zumbani, this is what needs to happen.  This is when you need the people that went to colleges to be trained in this regard. Without that Madam Speaker, Zimbabwe we are going nowhere.  My view Madam Speaker is that we need as a matter of urgency, and we will be discussing this when the budget comes to simply say have monies set aside.

Lastly, I just want to mention another aspect and all the various legislation that the report relates to. Most of the legislation was put way back during Ian Smith’s time. They have not been looked into and this is one of the things that the Portfolio Committee on Health needs to do. Also they need to interrogate the Ministry of Health to really look into these pieces of legislation so that they are actually in conformity with the aspirations of Zimbabweans.  Once we do that, then we will actually be happy.

I represent a few, if not the majority of people that still believe that getting vaccinated whether it is Pfizer, whether it is Johnson and Johnson, whether it is a vaccine from China or from India, are actually happier to continue to change the vaccines from our own medication that we have been taking.  To me, they make more sense.  As I stand Madam Speaker, I move to support this report by simply asking the Portfolio Committee to do even more as they go forward; as we go towards the budget.  I thank you.

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Charles Rukuni
The Insider is a political and business bulletin about Zimbabwe, edited by Charles Rukuni. Founded in 1990, it was a printed 12-page subscription only newsletter until 2003 when Zimbabwe's hyper-inflation made it impossible to continue printing.

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