Tobaiwa Mudede spoiled his argument against the use of contraceptives by steeping it in conspiracy theories and nationalist jargon.
As the country’s Registrar-General, he should stick to the demographic argument. He should base his argument purely on what kind of numbers a country such as Zimbabwe can reasonably sustain without either straining the resources or under-utilising them.
He should do this with the aid of infographics and other statistics that show beyond any doubt that Zimbabwe needs more people, or that it should shun chemical contraceptives.
It is true, as he has stated in the past, that unchecked birth control has long-term effects such as depopulation. A country’s development depends on a healthy number of youths.
There should be a sustainable balance between births and natural attrition. If the number of the dying far exceeds those being born, then there will be problem in the future. Mudede, as the Registrar of Births and Deaths, should give us the figures to show disequilibrium is developing.
There are countries in the world which are beginning to regress because of this kind of imbalance. Japan now has an aged population because birth rates have for decades been suppressed. China too has the same problem because of its one-child policy.
But these are extreme examples and Zimbabwe is far from even estimating this ageing process.
On the contrary, it has too much of a young population for its economy to absorb. To encourage people to keep on inflating this sector of the population by ditching birth control, as Mudede suggests, is to be irresponsible.
The rule of thumb should be to have, if health permits, as many children as one can feed, clothe and send to school. With the levels of poverty that Zimbabwe is experiencing now, it would be foolhardy for families to throw caution to the wind.
Few families earn the $600 required monthly to feed a family of five. Due to this statistic alone, families should be limited to two or three children.
Mudede has got a point though in stating that chemical contraceptives have side effects that compromise women’s health. But this alone is not good enough to call for a blanket ban of the birth-control chemicals.
Every medicine in use today has one side effect or another. The idea is to mitigate the side effects so they don’t outweigh the therapeutic value of the drug.
Contraceptives come in different forms and individuals are advised to identify the ones which suit them. Obviously this may be done through trial and error thereby not quickly averting the side effects.
Mudede should, therefore, call for better methods of determining the suitability of certain drugs to certain individuals instead of calling for a ban.
Conspiracy theories always abound, often supported by documented evidence. But their existence alone doesn’t make any policy that seems to vindicate them evil.
True, some countries may feel threatened by population growth in certain parts of the world, but that doesn’t make every birth-control policy complicit to the conspiracy.