Govt should prioritise funding of social services

NOW that President Emmerson Mnangagwa’s new, leaner Cabinet has been sworn-in, Zimbabweans eagerly expect the team and the 350 policymakers to hit the ground running, with the 2018 National Budget statement, which is due tomorrow, being their first port of call.

Distribution of the national cake has always been a contentious issue for many years, as social services such as developmental and infrastructural needs of the economy have always been neglected in pursuit of consumptive expenditure.
One key area, which has largely remained underfunded, is the health sector.

Although the Constitution recognises equal access to health as a basic human right, that right is just on paper, as successive Zanu PF governments, since Independence, have not prioritised the sector in the allocation of the country’s scarce resources.

It’s a public secret that security ministries and the Office of the President always got the lion’s share of the spoils, as former President Robert Mugabe prioritised his own security and foreign travels, apparently often for his personal medical check-ups in far-away countries.

Mnangagwa should bear in mind that he has inherited a country with a torn social fabric and should, therefore, prioritise social service delivery rather than adopt Mugabe’s style of leadership.

Health minister David Parirenyatwa has already sounded the clarion call, saying his ministry requires at least $1,1 billion to fully finance health services.

This might sound outrageous and overambitious, but we believe Parirenyatwa’s demands are justified given the poor state of the health sector.

As a country, we cannot continue to run along a path, where health is a preserve for the rich and greedy politicians, while the poor majority are left to die of such simple diseases such as typhoid, malaria and cholera.
Mnangagwa should spare a thought for the millions of Zimbabweans, who do not have the privilege of flying abroad for treatment.

The new government should not only look at funding provision of drugs per se, but related infrastructure such as medical equipment, water and sewer equipment, roads and also general stress-related ailments triggered by economic challenges.

Given the current fiscal constraints, the government should prioritise and focus on cost-effective health programmes and interventions, increase access to health care services, reduce inequalities between different socio-economic groups and geographic areas and increase immunisation coverage and child nutritional status.

Basic health infrastructure in urban, informal, resettlement and rural areas need improvement to cut down on the unbearable long distances travelled by the poor majority to access primary health care facilities.

Government also needs to increase the capital budget for the construction of public hospitals, clinics and waiting mothers’ homes and review the health sector’s staff complement so that it’s in tandem with the population size.

It makes no sense to continue using the staff establishment of 1983, when the country’s population was only 7,5 million and has since doubled and the disease burden has also increased.

Therefore, there is urgent need to review the medical staff population in order to reduce work overload and burnout and increase domestic funding for operational costs and avoid a situation where employment costs far outweigh operations costs and capital programmes.

Donor dependency for drug procurement and other health-related services should be an exception rather than a priority.



  1. Yes wishful thinking for now.Our current budget funding is $5 billion.How does one do the maths of such a large expenditure going into $20b? First things first Grow the Economy then all these little things will be dealt with latter.Grow Farming and the soon gvt puts an Agri levy by this January the better.Put up a revolving agri fund at Standard bank and work on inputs.Agri land which is 40% of our country is contributing only 10% to GDP.Obviously lack of funding.Bring back those farmers who have capital n let them farm.Otherwise same old story bla bla bla .Deal with the rote at RBZ.Get your hands on this glaring problem of bond note eating away our production.You do that then you are really serious.

  2. Maybe if you don’t trust Robertson or Tsumba to be at RBZ then put an Army general.I know a few who are qualified economists.Soldiers are crime free.They work according to command and deliver expected results.Policy at RBZ is unproductive. It has drven our economy underground.Since 2015 we have been cut off from intertrade not by sanctions but by ignorance.

  3. Pfuurayi Vamwevatongewo

    I stand to be corrected, but from my observation of the world after the Second World War (WWII), the fastest-growing economies were those of countries that were not permitted to even have a national army: Germany and Japan. Something is curious about such phenomenal growth in both economy and technological advancement of the two countries. If that growth was spurred by channeling of resources towards productive and social sectors, then we may need to refocus on our expenditure towards the security sector establishment, which is only very consumptive rather than productive. Lessons should be learnt from those two countries’s exceptional growth rates after WWII. The president knows what the country needs, and all he has to do is to provide quality leadership, and from my perspective, “quality” is “fit for purpose”. May the president, please, fit the bill for the future survival of Zimbabwe!

  4. Spot on Pfuurai.Economies are very self organisingbut ddo not allocate resources efficiently.This is where gvt comes iin by policy.Policy to instill confidence and redistribute income.Those 2 countriesyou mention yes they were not military juntas but equally they had ccompetent monitery policies.Israel for e.g. required every one of them overseas to contributefunds back home to help the state.Our RBZ chases money away and prescribes unheard of policies so ruinous yyou think we live in 1722.

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