The story we carried in yesterday’s issue under the title: “Government yet to scrap maternity fees”, exemplifies how issues of importance are politicised in this country.
The issue of maternity fees has become a bone of contention with different politicians in the inclusive government sending conflicting signals.
This issue has been on the government agenda long enough to have been implemented had there been political will. It is a pity that the government has not yet started disbursing funds that will help in scrapping maternity fees because of “logistical problems”.
The failure to disburse the funds boggles the mind because the Finance ministry last year budgeted $10 million for maternity fees and the donor community put in $525 million. Britain, through the Department for International Development, weighed in with $100 million.
Where is this money holed up? The sad irony is that while some politicians are reluctant to release the money, statistics show that on average, out of every 100 000 live births, 960 women die while giving birth.
Those who are playing politics with people’s lives should pause for once and think how a woman feels when she is forced to give birth at home under risky conditions when she desires the support of a hospital. Women, as Deputy Prime Minister Thokozani Khupe correctly observed, give life to people and maternity issues should never be underestimated. We should not tolerate people who play with people’s lives.
The tendency in this country to prioritise political expediency over everything, including human lives, should be dismissed with the contempt it deserves.
No right-thinking human being should deliberately watch women die during childbirth while withholding funds that can easily prevent such deaths.
The biggest question is: Who really is withholding the money made available for maternity fees and for what purpose? Somebody should be held responsible to account for that money. Over $600 million should not just lie idle (if it has not been already looted as is the tendency in this country) while deserving mothers die during childbirth. These mothers hold the key to the country’s future generations.
Serious follow-up on the money should be done before we hear stories about its disappearance. Why should women suffer when the government and donors injected money to allow them to give birth with the support of modern health facilities for free?
We are all aware of the high risk women face when giving birth and the complications that may require specialist attention. The money should be disbursed for the benefit of these deserving mothers, period.