MIDLANDS Senator Lillian Timveous came into Parliament through the Zebra system, and she was appointed by the party to represent the huge constituency as senator.
By VENERANDA LANGA
“I come from Zvishavane and I am a married woman with four children. I got into politics because of the economic difficulties that people face in Zimbabwe,” she said.
“My husband is a white businessman and he used to donate to the MDC-T, and I ended up joining the party. I rose through the ranks of the party structures from MDC-T treasurer for Midlands, chairperson for Midlands, and now I am national executive secretary for domestic affairs in the party and in 2013, I became Midlands Senator.”
Performance in the Senate
Timveous is one of the most vocal Senators, where she has a passion for raising issues on health, cancer and HIV. She chairs the Parliamentary Thematic Committee on HIV (Senate committee) and is also a member of the Parliamentary Thematic Committee on Peace and Security.
Timveous is also a member of the Parliamentary Forum on Small Arms and Light Weapons, which is an international Parliamentary body based in Sweden.
“Through the membership of the Parliamentary Forum on Small Arms and Light Weapons, I together with MPs Jessie Majome (Harare West, MDC-T), Innocent Gonese (Mutare Central, MDC-T) and former Senator Sekai Holland managed to get the government to sign an arms treaty in order to control the issue of illegal firearms coming into the country,” Timveous said.
“There are a lot of guns that get into the country and are not accounted for. Even those people that own guns need to be known so that we are able to put gun control measures. I am currently pushing that Zimbabwe ratifies and domesticates [make into law] the treaty.”
Senator’s work as HIV and Aids, cancer advocate
In Senate, Timveous has been pushing for free cancer diagnosis and treatment. Her passion comes from the fact that she was once a cancer patient.
“I was diagnosed with cancer six years ago, but I fought it and survived. As a Senator, I have gone round the constituency to places like Silobela, where they are doing cancer diagnosis using a biopsy gun, and have spoken to many women in Zvishavane, including sex workers and university students, on the need to undertake cancer screening.”
In Senate, Timveous is one of the senators that have pushed for government to ensure that every clinic and district in the country has testing equipment for cervical, breast cancer and other cancers.
Motions that she has raised in Parliament
Timveous has moved several motions in Senate, one of them highlighting the plight of National Railways of Zimbabwe workers in the country, who have not been paid for a long time.
“The motion was well received and well debated. Unfortunately, railway workers are still suffering. I also think that Parliament should change the manner they do things. For instance, we move motions, debate them and adopt them, but the executive does not even implement the recommendations that we will have made,” she said.
“Zanu PF ministers have done nothing to ensure they take action on recommendations made by Parliament. They just trash our motions, and I think we must amend our laws to ensure that there is punishment for ministers that fail to follow up on Parliament recommendations.”
Timveous also spearheaded a fight against HIV and Aids at universities through the HIV and Aids Parliamentary Thematic Committee, which she chairs.
This was through visits to different universities in the country where the committee talked to different students on issues like ending HIV and Aids by 2030.
“Students highlighted that there is still stigmatisation for HIV positive people. We heard that there is underfunding of clinics at higher institutions of learning and as a result they are under stocked in terms of drugs, resulting in HIV positive students having to go very far to access anti-retroviral drugs (ARVs). One student at the Midlands State University said she has to travel to Gokwe to access ARVs. We want one stop shops at universities to ensure that students get all treatment at clinics.”
The Senator has also met several groups, including widows and the elderly to discuss issues of access to health, and scrapping of maternal user fees so that they are abolished.
“For instance, HIV positive patients in Zvishavane are made to pay $4 user fees at hospitals. However, if they go to clinics, they are not charged any user fees, but the clinics do not have the whole course of drugs which they need. The elderly are treated for free, but are given prescriptions to go and buy drugs yet they have no money. Therefore, this means that health is still not accessible to a majority of people,” Timveous said.
Challenges as a female senator
Timveous said it is very difficult for women to get into Parliament compared to men because women have no financial clout yet campaigns need money.
“I managed to get to Senate, but the main challenge is to get resources like fuel to visit my constituency, which covers the whole of Midlands province. Parliament has been unable to provide MPs with constituency development funds and fuel coupons and so legislators end up using their own resources. In 2018, I would like to bounce back as Senator if my party feels that they still want my services.