LEADER of the opposition in the House of Assembly Thokozani Khupe yesterday introduced a motion on breast and cervical cancers and showed a video of the effects of breast cancer which sent spines chilling in the whole House.
Touched by the video and Khupe’s emotional narration of her own battle with cancer, Buhera South MP Joseph Chinotimba (Zanu PF) caused a stir when he said it was possible the video might be showing pictures of herself.
He said he could feel the agony of the pain Khupe felt when she lost her breast to cancer.
Khupe’s motion was urging government to introduce a mandatory cancer levy and set up cancer treatment centres in all provinces of the country.
“It is a painful motion, especially the fact that Khupe has come out to say she lost one of her breasts to cancer and we do not even know if the sad video she showed us was of her,” Chinotimba said.
“I am not joking, but I feel a lot of pain if I imagine if this was happening to my own wife and she had lost one of her breasts, and it hurts that Khupe is amongst other women with some of her body parts unproportional. My own father died of cancer.”
Zengeza East MP Alexio Musundire (MDC-T) raised a point of order with deputy speaker Mabel Chinomona saying it was unparliamentary for Chinotimba to say someone had an “unproportional body due to cancer”. Chinomona ruled Musundire out of order.
Debating on her motion, Khupe said there was urgent need to deal with cancer in Zimbabwe as 60% of women were at risk of cervical cancer and 1 800 were diagnosed with it while 1 200 died from it annually.
“At least 33% of women diagnosed with cancer in 2009 had cervical cancer and it accounted for 8% of all cancer deaths. Currently in Zimbabwe only two institutions treat cancer, Mpilo Central and Parirenyatwa hospitals, and chemotherapy is $300 per cycle while radiation is $300 per cycle. Even MPs cannot afford it,” she said.
Khupe said men could help their women fight cervical cancer through male circumcision and urged MPs to donate to cancer causes.
Seconder of the motion Ruth Labode (MDC-T proportional representation) said cancer treatment was estimated at $10 000 and most of the time machines at Mpilo and Parirenyatwa were broken down.
“There is only one government pathologist in the country at Parirenyatwa and Zimbabwe is rich with gold, diamonds, platinum and we should be able to treat cancer at no cost,” Labode said.
Deputy Minister of Health and Child Care Paul Chimedza said although a cancer levy was a good idea, the country should instead focus on setting up a levy for the whole health sector.
Meanwhile, Mberengwa East MP Makhosini Hlongwane (Zanu PF) introduced a motion calling for the lifting of sanctions by the United States and the European Union.
Hatfield MP Tapiwa Mashakada (MDC-T) said Zimbabwe’s situation could not be classified as a case of sanctions because there was no United Nations endorsement and that was why the opposition called them restrictive measures.
“By no means do we support those measures, but why were they imposed? Zanu PF is in a better position to explain to Zimbabwe why the sanctions were imposed,” Mashakada said.