ZIMBABWE boasts more than 60 minerals which have the capacity to annihilate poverty which is endemic among our people. The country is bedevilled by hyperinflation, prices are soaring with the breadbasket now above $1 million dollars yet very few people are getting salaries above the that figures.
One wonders how a teacher who earns $200 000 per month manages to survive considering the astronomical amounts charged on rentals, food, amenities to mention just but a few. Economic and social development is the process by which the economic well-being and quality of life of a nation, region, local community or an individual are improved according to targeted goals and objectives.
Economic development is thus measured through economic growth, improvement in living standards, educational standards, improved health care and infrastructure, and diversification of the economy.
Zimbabwe has coined the National Development Strategy 1 (NDS1), a blueprint aimed at realising the country’s Vision 2030. The tenets of NDS1 include strengthening macroeconomic stability, characterised by low and stable inflation as well as exchange rate stability.
NDS1 is supposed to leverage on the country’s competitive advantages particularly with regards to natural resource endowment, our excellent ecological endowment and skills base. The country has a brilliant document, alas, things are not shaping up as we are chasing run-away inflation of more than 900%, unprecedented exchange rate volatility, high political temperatures coupled with a liquidity crisis. Service delivery has virtually collapsed in many sectors of the economy.
There are some ministries which are key in any country. The failure by such ministries naturally brings untold misery to citizens. The Finance, Health, Transport, Energy and Education ministries play a significant role in the economic development of each country in the world. There are indicators of quality of life and some of them are income and jobs, housing, education, health access, life-work balance, interpersonal relationships, access to cultural and leisure activities to mention just but a few. The above-mentioned ministries should, therefore, work diligently if NDS1 is to be achieved.
The Health ministry should pull up its socks as public healthcare facilities are facing numerous challenges that make health delivery a nightmare. We have said it for a long time that the rate of brain drain in the health sector is alarming and if it remains unabated, then we are going nowhere as a country. More than 5 000 healthcare workers have deserted the country in the past two years with UK being the biggest recipient of our well-trained workers.
It seems the ministry has no concrete measures to curb such devastating brain drain. Healthcare workers have worked hard in the country, but have not been recognised through incentives such as vehicle and housing loans, residential stands, agriculture land, salary increases and other incentives. Until when are we going to continue losing our skilled workers? There is gross understaffing in many hospitals in Zimbabwe. I passed through Norton Hospital and noted that the maternity wing is now manned by eight midwifes instead of 28. If the remaining eight just decide to pack their bags for the UK, the consequences are very clear —higher morbidity and mortality in the country.
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The Education ministry has failed to stand with teachers considering that they are some of the least paid employees in the civil service despite the resilience they have shown before. Where is the Education minister when teachers are suffering in this inflationary environment? Teachers are very critical in any economy and their grievances should be addressed expeditiously.
The Transport ministry seemed to be doing well some two years ago, but the performance has not been pleasing lately. Many roads remain unattended to in towns and cities. Kuwadzana roundabout in Harare is supposed to be a one-week project, alas, it is now two years without significant progress. Kirkman Road, another busy Harare road, is a misery as two years have gone by without progress.
Motorist are exposed to dust since the road is no longer tarred. The health consequences are obvious especially for patients with conditions like asthma, chronic obstructive pulmonary disease, allergies, tuberculosis, pneumonia etc. In Norton, the road connecting Ngoni shops with Katanga is a pale shadow of itself and one wonders why the tarred surface was removed in the first place. Was planning done prior to such action? Was budgeting done before? If yes, where is the problem then?
Where is the Finance minister when wheels are getting off a moving bus? Who should fund all these projects? Who should bring macroeconomic stability as envisioned in NDS1?
The Lands ministry failed to give medical practitioners even six hectares of land as recommended by the President two years ago. Until now, only very few medical practitioners have accessed land in Mashonaland East province. With vast tracts of land in Zimbabwe, do we need three years to allocate just six hectares of agricultural land to our hard-working medical practitioners?
It is time the President dropped under-performing ministers.
- Johannes Marisa is president of the Medical and Dental Private Practitioners Association of Zimbabwe. He writes here in his personal capacity.