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Levy SMEs to fund HIV fight: Mathema - Zimbabwe Today
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Levy SMEs to fund HIV fight: Mathema

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Cde Cain Mathema

Tinomuda Chakanyuka, Senior Reporter
THE Minister of State for Provincial Affairs for Matabeleland North Province, Cde Cain Mathema, has said the Government should consider extending the Aids levy to the informal sector and Small to Medium Enterprises, to augment the levy’s annual collections which have plummeted in recent years.

Addressing journalists on the sidelines of the Eastern and Southern African expert meeting on HIV prevention revitalisation meeting in Victoria Falls last week, Cde Mathema said the country needed a paradigm shift in its fight against HIV.

He said a number of people were now employed in the informal sector, thus authorities needed to look at those people as possible sources of domestic funding for HIV interventions.

Cde Mathema’s remarks come at a time when countries are being encouraged to come up with self-sustained funding models for their health programmes as donor support is waning. Zimbabwe, like most developing countries, largely relies on donor funds for its HIV fight. At least 75 percent of the country’s HIV and Aids budget comes from external sources while internal sources which include the Aids levy account for the remainder.

“If you look at the figures of Aids levy collection you see that they are going down because the levy is based on employees.

“What it means is that we have to make sure that our economy grows from where it is now so that we have more and more people in employment, or think of the idea of levying those who are in the informal sector and SMEs. Internationally, all economies now are having more and more SMEs and we need to look at how we can tax them,” he said.

Aids levy collections have gone down by about $7 million between 2014 and 2016, although there are indications they may stabilise this year onwards. The levy collections had been growing since the advent of the multi-currency regime in 2009.

Aids levy grew from $5,7 million in 2009, peaked to $38, 6 million in 2014 only to drop to $32 million at the end of last year.

“As long we don’t have plans of developing our economies and plans of industrialisation we will not be able to get people into employment.”

He added that the Zimbabwean Government, led by President Mugabe remained committed to fight HIV.

“The President (Mugabe) is patron of Nac therefore from that level the political commitment is very clear, hence the Ministry of Health (and Child Care) has achieved so much success over the years,” he said.

Cde Mathema said the fight against HIV was not the duty of political leaders alone but that of every citizen.

“It’s not just the political leaders, it’s everyone, family heads, community leaders, churches and everyone. We should change our culture. I know a lot of people would say culture should remain static but it is not the case,” he said.

Cde Mathema also called for societies to relook and abandon cultural practices which may contribute to the spread of HIV.

He encouraged girls to delay getting into marriage and empower themselves through education.

“We need to look at what we have been doing wrong and indeed have a paradigm shift. If you look at Europe now, a lot of women are getting married late, because they are empowered, they plan their future, but do we really allow our children to plan their future, he said.

Added Cde Mathema, “We need to start asking ourselves the question: When do we start talking to our children about sex. All of us are not comfortable talking about sex to our children. When do we really start sending that message.”

According to Nac, treatment and prevention continue to be the country’s funding priorities in HIV and Aids response.

Although on a decline, HIV remains a major public health threat in Zimbabwe.

Source :

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