'Mining firms should contribute to Aids levy'

HARARE - Legislators should devise strategies that will ensure the country’s lucrative mining sector contributes towards the Aids Levy, Health minister Henry Madzorera said.

Speaking during the World Aids Day in Beitbridge on Saturday, Madzorera implored Cabinet to review the National Aids Policy so that it ropes in mining concerns to strengthen internal resource mobilisation.

“I understand that mining firms are not paying Aids Levy in line with policy, although they may be among the few firms posting huge profits in our economy.

“In this regard, I would like to appeal to the responsible authorities to re-look into this policy and if possible get the mining giants to contribute towards the Aids Levy,” said Madzorera.

He said he was glad minister Kembo Mohadi was in attendance and would deliver the message to cabinet.
Zimbabwe’s extractive sector has become a very vital pillar of the economy following the discovery of diamonds amid successive years of drought and an industry downturn.

However, little benefits have been accrued from the sector.

Finance minister Tendai Biti claims most mining companies are not remitting taxes.

Diamond watchdogs in the country have on the other hand been constantly lobbying government to enhance transparency and accountability in the extractive sector for national development.

Recently, Partnership Africa Canada (Pac), one of the non-profit groups in the diamond watchdog group, the Kimberley Process, released a damning report showing Zimbabwe has since 2008 lost over $2 billion.

But President Robert Mugabe says the cake is too small to feed everyone.

Madzorera dwelt on the need for a holistic approach in addressing the challenges being faced by implementers of HIV/Aids policies and initiatives aimed at reducing the impact of the disease.

“We cannot get to zero doing business as usual. We need a new vision, a new ethos, a new vibe, and a sense of renewal that will guide us to zero new HIV infections, zero Aids-related deaths and zero discrimination.

“We all have a role to play,” he said. “Getting to Zero is — My responsibility, Your Responsibility” is the 2012/2013 campaign theme and slogan.

Zero signifies elimination of new HIV Infections, Aids-related deaths and discrimination by 2015 as demanded in the Millennium Development Goals.

Zimbabwe Demographic and Health Survey indicated HIV prevalence in the copuntry has declined from 18 percent in 2005 to 15 percent in 2010.

Zimbabwe is currently faced with Anti retro viral drug shortages which has left half of the 1, 2 million HIV positive without treatment. - Wendy Muperi

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