Farirai Machivenyika Senior Reporter
Government should give couples incentives to have at least eight children while NGOs dealing in birth control should now focus on population growth, Senators have said. The Senators said this last week while contributing to a motion moved by Mashonaland West Senator Byton Musaka calling on Government to encourage population growth as a way of attracting investment in the country.
“Our population in Zimbabwe is too low to make any meaningful contribution in terms of economic development. If you look at the population of Zimbabwe and compare even with those countries that are even five times smaller than Zimbabwe, take for example England, it is five times or four times smaller than Zimbabwe. It has got a population of 76 million or more and the dynamics of development is enormous. The country is vast with many resources but empty. We have no people. We should be serious about development,” Senator Musaka said adding that couple should have at least eight children.
He also said investors would always go to countries with large populations like Nigeria and Ethiopia who have at least 150 million and 90 million people respectively and called on Government to give incentives to couples with eight children.
“The amount of money they (NGOs) are spending — thousands and thousands — in birth control must be spent in supporting families and children in schools because they have the money. If they have the money to actually discourage life, why can they not encourage life?” he said.
Mashonaland East Senator Tabeth Murwira said a large population was good for business.
“Increase in population is good because it has a positive bearing on our economy and businesses
“More profit means that even companies will now be resuscitated. Once companies are operational, it means people can now get employment. An increase in population attracts investors from outside because they are assured that there are customers in Zimbabwe,” she said.
Midlands Senator Morgan Komichi said the notion of having small families was a ploy by Western nations to re-colonise Africans.
“This idea of having few children was re-colonisation that happened to us without knowledge. If you go to Britain, Germany or any other country, there are a lot of families that give birth to many children because they know that you cannot separate the population and economic development.
“When we de-colonised Africa and won the liberation struggle, they sat down with IMF and World Bank and they came up with human rights issues and started teaching our women and children that you do not need to have many children because of the cost of living. That is a lie,” he said.
However, Masvingo Senator Ethel Mabhugu said there were challenges that came about due to large populations.
“Having more children depends on whether you can look after them or not. When we increase the number of children, you need to make sure that they go to school.
“Nowadays we see that other children, especially in the rural constituencies where we come from, children are failing to go to school and they are failing to send those children to school. So, should we have more children so that they end up just sitting at home?” she said
Harare Metropolitan Province Senator Theresa Makone said the number of children one has should remain a personal choice, adding that Parliament had no business legislating on the size of families.