Staff Reporter | In a rather dumbfounding move the cabinet has approved the use of livestock as payment for medical aid services.
It was not clear at the time of writing whether this mode of payment whereby livestock replaces the US dollar will be limited to the health sector only or is likely to spread to other commercial transactions. Zimbabwe is currently facing serious cash shortages.
The central bank has accused ‘ungrateful’ foreign traders as the cash crisis deepened last week with depositors failing to access money at banks while others said their banks had cut by half the daily withdrawal limit to $50.
Addressing the Ministry of Public Service, Labour and Social Welfare 2017 strategic review workshop, Minister Mupfumira said the move would spread access to health care to rural, mining and farming communities.
“As Government, it is our responsibility to ensure that the vulnerable, the less privileged and those not formally employed have access to medical services,” she said.
Minister Mupfumira said the process had already been activated with the approval of Cabinet, while subsequent processes of drafting the Bill before taking it to Parliament by the end of the year were under way.
The scheme will include a voluntary component targeting the informally employed, who will make their contributions at prescribed intervals.
Minister Mupfumira said the scheme had to be affordable to the masses, adding that most people in rural, mining and agriculture communities had no access to health services.
Medical aid societies cover only those who are in formal employment, which translates to a few.
Minister Mupfumira revealed that the Ministry of Public Service, Labour and Social Welfare had signed a Memorandum of Understanding with their South African counterparts to improve cooperation in the management of migrant workers.
Zimbabwe has a number of its people living and working in South Africa.
The MoU is a culmination of South African President Jacob Zuma’s visit last year that was aimed at strengthening bilateral relations.
Turning to her ministry, Minister Mupfumira said it did well in ensuring that no one starved through the drought mitigation programmes.
At least 852 000 households translating to about four million people have been receiving food assistance since last year.