Nqobile Tshili, Chronicle Reporter
GOVERNMENT has struck a deal with 10 pharmaceutical companies from Egypt for the provision of medicine to the country’s hospitals, Finance and Economic Development Minister Professor Mthuli Ncube has said.
Prof Ncube revealed this on Wednesday during the 2023 National Chiefs Conference in Bulawayo in response to concerns raised by traditional leaders over a shortage of drugs in rural clinics.
Prof Ncube said Government was addressing the problem and has engaged Egypt over the supply of medicine to the country’s hospitals and clinics.
“You highlighted that in some areas some clinics do not have medicines. As Government, what we have done is that the President directed me to visit several countries to seek medicine for the country’s hospitals,” he said.
“As I speak, I am actually from Egypt where we signed deals for the supply of medicine from 10 pharmaceutical companies in that country. We will distribute the medicines to health care centres across the country.”
The minister also spoke about the terrible state of the country’s roads, singling out the Bulawayo-Victoria Falls road.
“The Bulawayo-Victoria Falls road is in a bad state and it will only be attended to once we have finished the Beitbridge-Harare-Chirundu Highway. For now, we will start by patching potholes and if you have driven along that road, you will realise that the stretch from Lupane to Hwange is very bad up to Victoria Falls,” said Prof Ncube.
“The broader plan is to rehabilitate the entire road. So, we are just waiting for the rainy season to pass so that we start attending to the road.”
Prof Ncube said other roads that need attention include the Bulawayo-Nkayi Road among other major roads in the region.
Meanwhile, speaking during the same event, Lands, Agriculture, Fisheries, Water and Rural Development Minister Dr Anxious Masuka said Government is set to provide chiefs with farms while plans are on course to de-silt community dams that are no longer able to hold water.
He said Government had noted the submissions that were made by chiefs and deliberate efforts have been undertaken to address them.
Dr Masuka said Government under the Second Republic introduced the Intwasa/Pfumvudza programme designed for small-scale farmers and to ensure that the country attains food security.
He said Government has also invested in the construction of high-impact dams that will aid the country’s food security through irrigation farming
“We know that a lot of dams in the communities are now silted due to deforestation in communities. So, we will come up with a programme to fix those dams,” said Dr Masuka.
“I’m also aware that there are many chiefs who were not allocated land. So, on March 31, I will be having a meeting with all the Ministers of State for Provincial Affairs and Devolution and we will deliberate on that issue so that all of them can be allocated land.”
Dr Masuka said his ministry will also look into the requests made by traditional leaders to have their communities directly buying grain from the Grain Marketing Board (GMB), especially in drought-prone areas.
“We also heard your cry that communities be allowed to buy maize directly from the GMB. So, we will inform the GMB that when they brings the Government aid relief grain, they should keep some to enable those who wanted to buy to do so,” he said.
Dr Masuka said he will also engage his Environment, Climate, Tourism, and Hospitality Industry counterpart, Minister Mangaliso Ndlovu to speed up the process of awarding Binga chiefs fishing licenses.
President donated fishing rigs to Binga chiefs last year in April as part of efforts by the Second Republic to empower the community to harness business opportunities from the Zambezi River through facilitating commercial fishing.
However, the traditional leaders are yet to get licenses for them to start operating within the confines of the laws. – @nqotshili