Widows Demand Spouse Pension Increase, Subsidised Health Care

By Kenneth Matimaire

Mutare, September 21, 2016 – MUTARE widows have appealed to government to increase spouse pensions and further subsidise all health related charges levied against them.

The widows were speaking during the 2017 pre-budget consultative meeting on gender responsive budget held on Wednesday.

The consultative meetings are being spearheaded by the Parliamentary Portfolio Committee on Women Affairs, Gender and Community Development chaired by Nyanga North legislator, Hubert Nyanhongo.

The widows were part of close to 800 women who attended the meeting.

They said most of them were exposed to abject poverty after the death of their spouses while others were succumbing to various ailments as they could nolonger afford to meet medical expenses.

The widows lamented that most of them were receiving a mere $30 per month as spouse pension from the National Social Security Authority (NSSA).

Benedicta Moyo said the amount was inadequate in terms of their general upkeep and that of their children.

“Imagine that I have to pay for school fees, buy groceries and pay rent using the $30 spouse pension I receive. It’s actually $28 dollars because the bank deducts $2 as bank charges. Can I sustain myself and my family with such money! Government should make sure that they increase the pension for widows because our families are suffering,” said Moyo.

Another widow, Theresa Zhanero of Sakubva said they are succumbing to illnesses because they could not afford high medical costs charged in most health institutions.

Zhanero said government also had to consider reducing health charges for widows.

“We can’t afford to pay for our own health simply because we are getting too little from NSSA and that the hospitals are charging too much. Government has to consider our plight; they have to subsidise some of these costs,” she said.

Other women who were part of the gathering further called for an effective cancer fund and the availability of water in hospitals saying they were being asked to bring their own water.

Women also appealed to government to provide medicines in hospitals, a situation they say was fertile ground for corruption by hospital staffers and pharmacists.

“Government should end corruption that is being fuelled by the shortage of medicines in hospitals. We no longer know whether it’s genuine or false because it appears hospitals are conniving with pharmacies to rip us off.

“They lie that they don’t have drugs and send us to pharmacies which they are getting money from for recommending patients. It should end,” said Fadzai Mutunza of Chikanga.