Civil Society Organisation (CSOs) have said austerity measures introduced by the Finance Minister Professor Mthuli Ncube to ensure economic fundamentals are put in place cultivated inequality in Zimbabwe.
Speaking on behalf of CSOs on Friday last week, Zimbabwe Council of Churches (ZCC) Reverend Paul Gwese said the measures implemented in 2019 against the backdrop of deep socio-economic woes did not help the situation when it comes to inequality.
“Budget cuts in public service delivery in areas such as health further relegated ordinary citizens to abject poverty,” Gwese said.
“The huge tax burden as highlighted by the infamous 2% affects the rich and the poor disproportionately as it is the latter who feel the heat.”
The Reverend went on to say the implications of austerity measures is that healthcare inequalities will persist in the country.
“Poor rural areas lack adequate healthcare, nutrition and access to water and sanitation compared to their urban counterparts,” Gwese said.
“Despite the commonality of Public-Private Partnerships in the health sector across the globe, their effectiveness is yet to be realised in Zimbabwe. The initiative is perpetuating inequalities in the health sector with most of the essential services now being offered by private players.”
“In the case of Chitungwiza Central Hospital, mortuary services are now run by Doves whilst radiology department services are provided by the Baines Group. This privatisation of public health services disproportionately affects the poor as they do not afford the fees charged by private service providers,” he went on.
The opening of the 2020 academic year has exposed the worrying effects of income inequality on the poor according to the ZCC Reverend.
“Hyperinflation against stagnant salaries has drastically eroded citizens’ already pathetic disposable incomes such that most parents are finding it difficult to make ends meet to afford their children some education. It is regrettable how standards in public education institutions have tremendously gone down and this has seen the financially abled parents resorting to private schools for quality services,” Gwese said.
“The parents’ level of income determines the quality of education they can afford for their children.”
“The educational inequalities have also been exacerbated by the hikes in school fees with families finding it difficult to afford all the educational requirements. Private schools with better facilities have remained a preserve of the few of a better socioeconomic status,” he said.
Preliminary findings of the UNDP Inequality Report reveals that in 2018 the richest 10% of Zimbabweans took more income than the poorest half of citizens.
The world’s billionaires, only 2, 153 people in 2019, have more wealth between them than 4.6 billion people according to the World Economic Forum.