Vice President Emmerson Mnangagwa admitted in the National Assembly on Thursday that agriculture equipment which First Lady Grace Mugabe has been donating on her countrywide tour is part of the $98 million Brazil-Zimbabwe Food for Africa loan facility.
Responding to questions from lawmakers Mnangagwa said the first lady was not making donations but merely handing over equipment that had been sourced by the government.
Cornered by lawmakers in parliament as to why Mrs. Mugabe was getting involved in government business, Mnangagwa failed to explain this but could only say the first lady is just distributing the equipment after her rallies together with the minister of agriculture. But Mrs. Mugabe, during her last two rallies in Chisumbanje and Rushinga in Manicaland provice gave the impression that she was the one who had sourced the equipment which includes tractors, disc harrows, planters, fertiliser spreaders, among others.
Opposition lawmakers were concerned that the equipment was being distributed to Zanu PF supporters yet the country’s taxpayers would repay the loan. Meanwhile, hundreds of city residents are flocking to the city centre where pharmaceutical students from the University of Zimbabwe and the Harare Institute of Technology are conducting free tests for some of the conditions associated with non-communicable diseases such as high blood pressure and blood sugar levels and body mass index. This is designed to promote health living standards among the people under the banner of the Zimbabwe Pharmaceutical Students’ Association.
Association public relations officer, Anesu Dhliwayo, told Studio 7 during the free tests that are being conducted in Harare’s First Street that they decided to carry out the exercise after realizing that more than 60 percent of deaths in sub-saharan Africa are now due to non-communicable diseases.
Dhliwayo said the whole exercise is intended to promote healthy living by raising awareness about the dangers of these conditions.
She said the turnout has been impressive as people are keen to know what their status. A city resident, who attended the tests and requested anonymity, said he was unable to do regular checks at the local clinic as the charges are exorbitant.
Another city resident, who only identified herself as Enia, told Studio she was excited as in her own words “everything was okay”. She said the advice she got from the students was excellent.
After going through the test residents, regardless of the outcomes of the tests, are counseled and referred to their doctors or health institutions for the required attention.
Masvingo Central lawmaker, Edmund Mhere, who visited the testing centre, advised the pharmaceutical students to also carryout such tests at Parliament and other places as most people are in need of such services.
The tests by the students were funded by the two tertiary institutions as well as several private pharmacies in and around the country.
As the non-communicable diseases take their toll on the country, some pharmacies in the country are now carrying out free blood sugar tests and testing kits are now on sale in public pharmacies.
These diseases that are not infectious — the so-called non-communicable diseases or NCDs. Almost two-thirds of all deaths in the developing world, about 23 million each year are affected by the NCDs.
For Zimbabwe, 30% of all deaths are caused by NCDs, which generally have received less attention in the health sector though solutions are often very effective and very cheap.-VOA