DESPITE launching the Zimbabwe Business Council on Aids (ZBCA) in 2002, a private sector initiative to fight the spread of HIV and Aids, the country’s business community is not keen to he
lp in the eradication of the problem, a Zimbabwe Human Development report has said.
Standard Chartered Bank of Zimbabwe Ltd chief executive officer Washington Matsaira led the organisation whose mission was to try and prevent, control, mitigate and stop the spread of HIV and Aids at the work place and the community at large.
When it was launched, amid much fanfare in Harare, company chief executive officers included Dairibord Zimbabwe Ltd’s Antony Mandiwanza, Kingdom Financial Holdings’ Lysias Sibanda, Cotton Company of Zimbabwe Ltd’s Sylvester Nguni, OK Zimbabwe Ltd’s Willard Zireva, Old Mutual Ltd’s Graham Hollick, Anglo American Corporation Zimbabwe Ltd’s Godfrey Gomwe, Zimbabwe Sugar Refineries Ltd’s Patison Sithole, Securico Security Services Ltd’s Divine Ndhlukula, former Intermarket Holdings Ltd’s Nicholas Vingirai, Unilever Ltd’s Malcolm Hughes, and former Zimplats Ltd boss Roy Pitchford.
The United Nations Development Programme supported the report which was produced by the Institute of Development Studies and Poverty Reduction Forum.
The 2003 report released last week said the local private sector had not been in any way helped in the fight against the eradication of the problem.
“The private sector has clearly not been forthcoming in the fight against HIV and Aids. Responses in the sector are patchy, simplistic and concerned more with posters and condom distribution,” the report said.
“Not all organisations have HIV and Aids programmes. There are no risk assessments in order to better target the response within organisation and sectors.”
There are currently 1 820 000 people in Zimbabwe estimated to be HIV positive.
The HIV infection rate is 24,6% and it is estimated that by the end of last year, 761 000 children were orphaned by Aids.
Zimbabwe is losing at least 3 000 able-bodied individuals weekly which poses one of the major challenges for business development in the country.
The report said although the ZBCA was formed towards the end of 2002, it was too early to discern the effect of the initiative.
“It is, however hoped that businesses will be bold enough to acknowledge their employees’ lived realities after work, and at work and to prepare programmes that capture reality,” the report said.
So far Caps Holdings has indicated that it intends to launch its $10 billion anti-retroviral drugs project.
However, the country’s largest pharmaceutical firm was beaten to it by Varichem which became the first company to offer Antiretroviral drugs to the market.
The report said there were no risk assessments from the private sector to better target the response within organisations and sectors.
“Those organisations that have responses have male-biased responses, focusing on their employees only in the hope that the information filters to wives, but it has not. When it comes to SMEs, there is no response at all because of their size but also NGOs and government do not somehow, notice them,” the report said.
“Organisations that have been training small business also have not mainstreamed HIV and Aids in their training modules.”
The report did not spare civil society in its attack either in which it said the sector was a mixture of “associational life” adding that its response to issues of HIV/Aids has not been well coordinated.
“It is largely urban-biased, uses the same methods of teaching, about HIV and Aids,” the report said.