Harare City Council has lashed out at politicians advocating for free maternal service, saying those campaigning for that facility should stop politicking and face reality.
Mayor Muchadeyi Masunda said politicking on crucial issues that needed money would affect service delivery and also unnecessarily portray the municipality as insensitive to the people’s plight.
He said issues surrounding maternity and health services needed a compromise adding that doing away with maternity fees at council clinics would endanger expecting mothers.
Masunda said it was unnecessary to play emotive games with the minds of the people by advocating for the abolition of fees.
“In my humble view, there is no reason to be playing games about reduction or abolition of maternity fees. We have reduced them, but how are we going to manage without compromising expecting mothers?” he said.
He said many things were needed to ensure there was no risk to expecting mothers and also that council had the money to achieve that.
Harare reduced maternal fees by 40% in its budget last year a move described by analysts as positive and a victory for Deputy Prime Minister Thokozani Khupe, a strong advocate for free maternal services.
Khupe is on record telling Parliament last year that giving birth was a national duty and that as such, women should not be made to pay maternity fees. She said many women in Zimbabwe died unnecessarily while giving birth, with 725 fatalities per every 100 000 women.
“This translates to eight women dying every day while giving life,” said Khupe.
“When women are giving birth they are performing a national duty and therefore it is important that we prevent these deaths.”
She said if women were to decide to refuse to fall pregnant, there would be no nation to talk about.
“All of you in this House came from a woman’s womb and if women in Zimbabwe were to stand up and say no woman must fall pregnant, what do you think will happen in the next 15 to 20 years?” she asked.
“This country would come to a standstill. Women die because of certain factors like lack of money for user fees or the $50 required for them to pay on registering their pregnancies,” said Khupe.
She said as a result most women did not register at health institutions and ended up giving birth at home or seeking medical attention on the day they gave birth.
Council, however, argues that abolition of maternal fees would compromise services as the local authority needed money to buy necessities to be used when women are giving birth.