By Tendai Ruben Mbofana
SOME expecting mothers have petitioned Parliament over inadequate, inaccessible, and unaffordable maternity facilities in Harare due to the closure of nine clinics that offered post-natal healthcare and other related services. They allege that the few available centres were demanding between US$40 and US$50 for such services.
Hundreds, if not thousands, of Zimbabweans are encountering unbearable challenges in acquiring new passports, they are forced to spend nights queuing to get the travel document, only to be referred from one office to another, in never-ending processes.
It is believed that over 105 houses, schools, and bridges were destroyed by Tropical Cyclone Ana in Manicaland province, leaving hundreds of families stranded.
This occurred when hundreds more families were yet to be provided permanent dwellings after the destruction of their homes by Cyclone Idai three years ago.
This is on top of perennial electricity outages that are reportedly threatening any envisioned economic growth for this year.
To add insult to injury, many towns and cities in Zimbabwe have had no tap water for what appears an eternity.
I could go and on with headlines in various media outlets just over the past few days, but I am sure a grim picture has already been clearly painted, as to the dire and unenviable situation that most Zimbabweans are faced with on a day-to-day basis.
Yet, I am sure, some of these seemingly insurmountable problems can be solved, practically overnight, by a cash injection of $500 million.
What did we read in the newspapers yesterday?
Oh yes, that the government, under the Political Parties (Finance) Act, was giving away $500 million both to the ruling Zanu PF, and the court-created pseudo-opposition MDC-T (or MDC Alliance or whatchamacallit) parties.
Indeed, one could justifiably ask why that should be a problem, since such a move was made in terms of the laws of the country — and, would, arguably, strengthen democracy in the country.
Well, that would certainly make a lot of sense.
However, this country is not run by pre-programmed robots that work in strict adherence to set codes and instructions, regardless of any other circumstances that may occur.
Even within a home, if the father, mother and children have set and predetermined agreed allowances awarded to them on a regular basis, should such a formula be necessarily religiously adhered to, notwithstanding other more pressing matters and emergencies cropping up, which may demand sacrificing the said allowances?
When there are schools without sufficient educational provisions, and personal protective equipment to protect our children and teachers against COVID-19 due to inadequate funding, would this political parties’ money not be a huge help?
Can we not use it to attend to the urgent needs of pregnant mothers who do not have adequate affordable, easily accessible pre- and post-natal healthcare facilities?
How far can $500 million go in alleviating perennial water challenges in some of our urban areas?
As a matter of fact, just imagine how much $500 million can help families that lost their houses during the recent cyclones, as well as help rebuild their livelihoods.
With a country teetering on the brink of economic collapse, can it be wise for our scarce financial resources to be channelled towards political parties which, by their voluntary organisation nature, can mobilise funds from various sources, including their supposed huge membership bases? Zimbabwe has so many challenges caused by lack of financial resources, and funding political parties should be the last thing on our priority list.
- Tendai Ruben Mbofana is a social justice activist, writer, author, and political commentator