The government should charge informal traders a levy as a way of increasing revenue to fight the HIV and Aids pandemic, Matabeleland North Provincial Affairs minister Cain Mathema has said.
BY XOLISANI NCUBE
Mathema told a Press briefing during a high-level meeting on revitalisation of HIV prevention in Victoria Falls last week that continued closure of industries and the upsurge of the informal sector called for fresh modalities to explore possibilities of taxing new sectors.
“As a country, for long we have been relying on the formal sector for contributions towards this fight, but as we are all aware, the formal sector is fast dying and we have to find ways of including those in the informal sector. Our small to medium enterprises must all come in and join in the fight,” Mathema said.
Currently, formally employed Zimbabweans pay at least 3% of their disposable income towards the Aids Levy, while employers contribute a similar percentage.
But according to National Aids Council (NAC) chief operating officer Raymond Yekeye, Aids Levy collections have been going down in recent years.
“In 2011, we had around $38 million and it came down to $36 million in 2012, down to $34 million in 2013 and rose $35 million in 2014, dropped to $34 million in 2015, dropped to $32 million in 2016 and this year we are projecting to collect on average $32 million,” he said.
From the amount collected, 50%, according to Health and Child Care minister David Parirenyatwa, goes towards treatment of HIV-related illness and procurement of anti-retroviral drugs and the rest was distributed towards administration, prevention and awareness programmes among other demands.
The minister said the government should now mobilise more resources towards prevention, if the fight against the pandemic which has wreaked havoc across the country.
International donors such as Global Fund and United Nations Aids (UNaids) have also been contributing to the procurement of anti-retroviral drugs for over 1,2 million Zimbabweans on medication.
“The first strategy now should be prevention, the second prevention and the third prevention. It must be prevention, prevention and prevention,” Parirenyatwa said.
The meeting also discussed modalities to engage commercial sex workers, truck drivers, young adolescents and married couples on prevention of HIV andAids.
Health activists at the meeting also demanded inclusion of same sex players in the strategy, with UN goodwill ambassador for HIV and Malaria campaign Yvonne Chaka Chaka warning delegates against segregating people based on sexual orientation.