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Divert Mobile Tax Funds Towards SRHR, Maternal Health, Govt Told

Zimbabwe Women’s Parliament Caucus (ZWPC) has urged the government to divert the five percent mobile airtime levy towards sexual and reproductive health rights programming.

Addressing a pre-budget seminar in Harare last week, ZWPC chairperson, Goodluck Kwaramba said the proportion of the 5 percent mobile airtime levy, introduced in 2017 and ring-fenced for the procurement of drugs and medicines should be devoted to financing free maternity for expecting mothers.

“Regionally, Kenya and Malawi established a dedicated budget line for family planning and Zimbabwe can start with a dedicated proportion of the airtime levy,” said Kwaramba.

Kwaramba demanded that the 2023 budget charge another sin tax on cigarettes and alcohol which should be ring-fenced towards the financing of cancer treatment and procurement of cancer equipment (radiotherapy and chemotherapy facilities) so that they are decentralized from Harare and Bulawayo.

“This tax should be used to progressively purchase the US$10 million machine for every Provincial Hospital. This cancer fund

The tax on products with high sugar content and genetically modified foods can also be augmented. Realizing that deaths related to non-communicable diseases like cancer have overtaken HIV/AIDS, the 2023 budget must set the tone for the amendment of the AIDS Levy to revise the rate to 1.5% and dedicate the other 1.5% to Cancer through the enactment of a Cancer Act, ” noted Kwaramba.

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She called on the Ministry of Health and Child Care to allocate more funds toward improving the deteriorating quality of maternal care in hospitals and clinics.

“Expecting mothers should be given full maternal care kit upon admission in hospital for delivery in line with free maternal care policy,” she said.

Hon Kwaramba suggested that the 2023 budget consider financially capacitating companies that can produce sanitary wear locally.

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