The Fight Inequality Alliance a global collective of organizations that are working towards the eradication of inequalities and the improvement of access to distribution of resources mobilize every January for a week in highlighting the crises existent in the world as a result of corporate greed, IFF`s and wholesale corruption by political elites. CIASA being an institution that works for the realization and enjoyment of human rights of all takes stock of how the manifestation of inequalities has affected the delivery of social services in Zimbabwe.
CIASA being an institution that works for the realization and enjoyment of human rights of all takes stock of how the manifestation of inequalities has affected the delivery of social services in Zimbabwe. In a country where there are huge disparities on distribution of income caused by dysfunctional economic system,weak public finance management and relaxed financial regulatory systems has seen the inequality gap increase along with its attendant challenges that have seen people in Zimbabwe who are on the other lower side of the income pole leading lives ridden with lack and depravity.As this week highlights the manifestation of inequalities CIASA looks at some of the challenges affecting the Zimbabwean society due to the uneven distribution of income and proffers recommendations to the issues.
The need for education equalization has gained traction in recent years with most elements of the calls being traceable back to the Nziramasanga Commission Report (1999). C.T Nziramasanga et al through collaborative efforts by civil society groups and teachers’ unions towards universal access to education for all. The Education sector has largely been affected by underfunding of the education sector by the government in violation of section 75 of the constitution of Zimbabwe, regional and global instruments. The Dakar Framework for Action (2000) recommends a threshold of 15% of the national budgets of signatory states but Zimbabwe has been significantly under budgeting the sector, a factor exacerbated by the austerity policies which cut government expenditure on social services since 2017 November. The Covid 19 pandemic has also contributed to increased dropouts in primary and secondary schools with only half of potential candidates for the benchmark examinations, Grade 7, Ordinary level and Advanced level managing to register and write examinations. The ramifications thereof are the compromising of the quality of education, negative progression of literacy rates and an unskilled working population whose impact has dire economic consequences in the long run.In this prevailing education environment,children from the upper income brackets have managed to access education even resorting to alternative learning methods allowing better future prospects as opposed to children from the lower income brackets and rural areas. CIASA proposes that there be established an education equalization Fund to ensure equality in the provision of education and equipment’s that necessitate the instruction of STEM disciplines to ensure that every student is well prepared for the impending 4 industrial revolution across the body.
The COVID-19 pandemic has overstressed an already faltering heath system exposing the major deficiencies that affect service delivery in that regard. Poor remuneration for health personnel has been the main source of discontent in the sector resulting in the mass exodus of skilled health personnel from the country to other countries especially the UK where they are better remunerated. The disproportionate doctor to patient ratio in Zimbabwe has denied citizens of some basic and requisite health attention resulting in many dying of preventable and easily curable illnesses. Women in particular are hardest hit as sexual and reproductive health services are neither affordable nor accessible particularly in the rural areas. There must be provision of Assisted Medical Treatment Orders especially for the elderly and people with disabilities. The spread and distribution of health facilities also denies access to health as there are fewer government health institutions thereby opening up the sector to private players who charge exorbitant fees for services effectively excluding the vast majority of the population who live below the poverty line. Foreign aid has been a major source of service delivery through health initiatives across the country helping vulnerable communities, however, the diplomatic relations between Zimbabwe and the major health funder,the government of the United States ofAmerica is an inhibiting factor in the execution of health initiatives and effective channelling of resources to potential benefactors.CIASA strongly urges the government to explore the various ways of enhancing healthcare through domestic health financing.
Corruption and gross mismanagement has left most local authorities crippled without the capacity for service delivery. Being the arm of government that provides water, sanitation, education, health and public infrastructure management at local authority, local governments are central in the delivery of basic services. However, political interference where elected officials have often been removed from office and replaced by commissions in local government,corruption and mismanagement has resulted in deteriorated service delivery most visible through poor waste management and water supply disruptions which expose women and children to illness and violence. The most affected population is poor and cannot afford alternative services further increasing the inequalities according to income and social strata.
Key Populations affected by inaccessibility of services:
Women and girls
This is the worst affected population as the lack of basic services is most pronounced at the household level. From compensating the energy deficit through firewood or other means detrimental to the environment to sanitary hygiene, women and girls bear most of the brunt and would be the biggest beneficiaries of a radical equalization program. Equally,women and girls are the biggest constituency and can be organized to attain effective service delivery.
The lack of access has been one the inhibiting factors in the development of the disabled persons. Most public and private service systems are not UNCRPD compliant and make it difficult to impossible for the disabled persons to access services that can help them cushion from poverty that most of them have to undergo due to the uneven distribution of services.
Due to the diverse makeup of the Zimbabwean society there are many indigenous groups who are most domiciled in hard to reach areas, where most basic services are not accessible and this has left them exposed to the vicissitudes of generational poverty as most of the people from these groups do not have access to education and up skilling initiatives that can help them alleviate their poverty.
In light of the above inequalities borne out of the lack of access to service delivery, the need for a radical equalization program to reduce the inequality gap through service delivery access is urgent. Women and children are hardest hit as education and health, the two critical empowering services are denied them keeping them under the vices of poverty and exposure to fatal illnesses. Women in particular are exposed to gender-based violence at water sources, contracting waterborne and sexual reproductive infections and are marginalised by the lack of education. Children lose valuable learning time due to the absence of standard schools and in many areas,covering the domestic labour demands caused by lack of basic services and lack of sufficient infrastructure that enhances service delivery.
Illicit Financial Flows
The extractive sector has been marred by illicit financial flows both at corporate and small scale. Due to the non-competitive pricing regimes and lack of beneficiation facilities mineral commodities are traded on the illegal markets where the government does not acquire any taxes. At corporate level there is serious under invoicing and externalization of the proceeds into offshore accounts where the country does also not benefit much if any. This has created a gap between the elite involved in the extractives and the poor workers and the communities they operate under as they do not benefit anything and this perpetuates the inequalities they face. CIASA strongly urges government, regulatory authorities and all statutory bodies that govern the mining sector to strengthen their systems to ensure that they aren’t illicit flows and introduce very prohibitive sentencing for all those engaged in this act.
Highlighting the above, noting that those who are in control of the unequal distribution of resources globally are unrelenting and are determined to maintain the status quo, CIASA commits to continuously engage and work in Solidarity with other movements globally in advancing the struggle for equality.