Bickering stalls Road Disaster Fund

HARARE - A proposal to establish the Road Disaster Fund (RDF) to assist road accident victims has failed to find favour with some Cabinet ministers and the insurance sector.

Government sources told the Daily News that a draft document which was authored by the Transport and Infrastructural Development ministry after a directive from Cabinet to assess if there is a compelling need for government to introduce the RDF faced strong condemnation in Cabinet.

This is despite the fact that government had hired expert consultants from Botswana and South Africa to help with the draft.

Botswana and South Africa already have RAFs.

According to the authoritative sources, the fund has faced fierce resistance from Finance and Economic Development minister, Patrick Chinamasa and Health and Child Care minister, David Parirenyatwa.

Chinamasa is reportedly under pressure from insurance firms, which argue that the fund would eat into their revenue base. He has also argued that it would add to citizens’ tax burden.

The fund will be mainly financed by a fuel levy whose magnitude is yet to be determined.

Parirenyatwa is also believed to be against the fund as it takes over some of the tasks of medical aid societies.

However, as it is, accidents victims are failing to get assistance from either from insurance firms or the medical aid societies and are spending months detained in hospitals after failing to pay for medical services.

Curiously, the Traffic Safety Council of Zimbabwe (TSCZ) appears to have been relegated to the hind, yet it is the one charged with the responsibility of advocating safety of road users.

TSCZ corporate communications and training manager Tatenda Chinoda does not know the current status of the draft document, which was submitted to the parent ministry in June.

“Maybe it is now with Cabinet,” he said.

But Transport and Infrastructural Development minister, Jorum Gumbo, said the document was still to be transmitted to Cabinet.

“Government processes don’t happen instantly, they go through meticulous process. It will go to Cabinet when it is ready. For now, it is still with stakeholders,” he said.

Although Chinamasa could not be reached for comment yesterday, he recently told the insurance industry that he was not in favour of the fund.

“There’s a perception that insurance companies don’t want to accept liability and we need to understand and engage those who are advocating for the establishment of the RDF and close that perception gap,” he said.

“I have been advised that you run pools at the Insurance Council of Zimbabwe to cater for hazardous risks that your individual members are not prepared to underwrite.

“We want to see all those initiatives benefiting the insuring public through prompt payment of claims and all such liabilities being met to the satisfaction of the policy holders,” Chinamasa told insurance players recently.

Parirenyatwa was not reachable.

Zimbabwe is the only country in the Southern African Development Community region without an RDF.

In addition to killing at least 2 000 people every year, road traffic accidents are having a negative impact on Zimbabwe’s economy, costing the country $406 million annually, the equivalent of 2,9 percent of gross domestic product (GDP).

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