Economist Eddie Cross has described Zimbabwe as a rich, but confused and badly managed country with potential to come out of the woods.
BY PRAISEMORE SITHOLE/ SIBONGINKOSI MAPHOSA
Presenting at an All-Stakeholders Conference on Health in Bulawayo yesterday, the former MDC Bulawayo South legislator said ever since Finance minister Mthuli Ncube de-linked accounts, the country was going through price increases, fluctuating exchange rates and income shrinkages which badly impacted people’s lives.
“We don’t have to rely on the IMF [International Monetary Fund]’s gross domestic product (GDP) statistics; we are a confusing country. We are on our own. We have to look for our own solutions,” he said.
Cross said people had to understand that the country’s economy comprised of three elements, which are the formal GDP, the informal economy, which comprises 62% as a whole being the largest in the world, and income from the diaspora.
He also said claims by the Reserve Bank of Zimbabwe that US$850 million comes from the diaspora each year were not true as the amount was in billions of dollars.
“Note that the following figures are in United States dollars, US per capita -$62 883 -medical expenses -$5 000, UK -$48 214 medical expenses $2 723, Zim- $8 714 -medical expenses $193. We are not paying enough to our medical sector, which is causing the decline to our life expectancy, dropping to 37 years,” Cross said.
He added that Zimbabwe was not poor; only badly managed.
“People at State hospitals are treated as aliens, while mission hospitals have good treatment despite having poor medical facilities. The key access to healthcare is that we need a national medical system that is privately funded,” Cross said.
“We need a national low cost-effective and efficient health system. The government and diaspora contributions should be used to assist those that cannot afford the basic cost.”
He said there should be automatic access to specialist care, based on the national referral scheme supported by the health insurance and private medical aid.
“We need a system of primary healthcare centres within walking distance for every Zimbabwean. These centres should provide public health services, electronic consultation service and primary first stage health assistance,” Cross said.
“We are not poor as we think. We can do better in providing our people with good healthcare.”
The former legislator added: “Even South Africa went through a re-assertion. My ancestors ruled with an iron fist, but after independence, the real Zimbabwe emerged. Education is not the key. We need wisdom for leaders rather than intellectuals. We have made progress, now various people are educated. We just need a little patience.”
Shylette Sanyanga, Association of the Health Care Funders of Zimbabwe chief executive, said despite the turbulent economic environment, medical aid continued to work.
“If we could have drugs being funded in both the public and private sectors, this would help in saving the patients,” she said.
United Bulawayo Hospitals chief executive Nonhlanhla Ndlovu, who represented Health minister Obadiah Moyo, said government appreciated the help being given by the private health sector.
“We seek to deliver quality health facilities besides the ongoing economic situation. We seek to reduce maternal deaths, diseases and deaths,” she said.
Ndlovu said government welcomed players from the private sector and allowed partnerships and sponsorships from internationals, while keeping in mind that locals must do more.