ZIMBABWE: Scrap Maternal Fees, Say MPs

July 2014 TheHerald; The National Assembly resumed sitting yesterday after a month long adjournment, with female legislators calling for the scrapping of maternal fees in health institutions.

Legislators across the political divide called upon the Government to implement the policy that it adopted to scrap maternal fees.

Goromonzi West MP Cde Beata Nyamupinga (Zanu-PF), who moved the motion said there was need to declare maternal mortality a national disaster, the same way Government was doing on road carnage.

“There is also policy inconsistencies and non-implementation in some cases,” said Cde Nyamupinga.

“For instance, the pronounced Government position is that maternal health services will be provided for free, yet there are continued reports of mothers who are detained after delivery due to their failure to pay required fees.

“Why not bring the husband for detention and not the wife because she would have done her duty.”

Bulawayo Metropolitan MP Ms Thokozani Khupe (MDC-T) said there was need to move away from coming up with policies that would not be implemented.

Hurungwe East MP Cde Sarah Mahoka (Zanu-PF) said women should instead be paid for giving birth the same way those who would be on national duty were being treated.

“If men go on national duty, they are paid handsomely yet when women do the same by giving birth they are asked to make payments and they even risk detention and losing their property over the debt,” she said.

“We want a public announcement on radio to say with immediate effect maternal service is now free and in addition women should instead be paid.”

Makoni South MP Cde Mandi Chimene (Zanu-PF) urged fellow legislators to boycott Parliamentary sittings should there be reports to the effect that there was a woman who had been detained over non-payment after delivering.

“Until you remove maternal costs, as women we are not sufficiently protected,” she said. “A thief is roaming free on the street while mothers performing national duty are being detained.”

Shamva South MP Cde Joseph Mapiki (Zanu-PF) said there was need to give the same priority to maternal issues the same way Government prioritised the Zimbabwe Defence Forces in its budget.

“If the ZDF is given high budgets because it protects life, the same should be given to mothers who save lives,” he said.

Chinhoyi MP, Dr Peter Matarutse (MDC-T) said one reason why there was poor service delivery in health centres was low remuneration being paid to health workers.

He urged the Government to unfreeze posts to allow recruitment of more health workers.

Bulawayo East MP Ms Thabitha Khumalo (MDC-T) urged fellow female legislators to keep vigil at health centres waiting to grab those women who would have given birth and save them from the risk of being detained.


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