via EDITORIAL COMMENT: No room for impunity | The Herald May 20, 2014
The final results of the 2012 National Census recently revealed by the Zimbabwe National Statistics Agency have been met with mixed acceptance and views. We acknowledge that it would be improper to give undue credence to voices that dispute some of ZimStat’s figures on the basis of opinion and without empirical evidence to back their claims.
The most important outcome of a census is for us as a nation not to lose sight of the fact that this is a valuable tool for planning for the future on the basis of the different statistics meticulously gathered by ZimStat.
In short, the census creates a clear picture for stakeholders and policymakers to assess what needs to be done, how it should be done, and properly plan allocation of resources to achieve those things that we must achieve.
What is evident is that due to over a decade of sanctions, Zimbabwe will most likely not meet some of the Millennium Development Goals, which set the international standard for acceptable minimum requirements for conditions under which every person in the world should live.
Key among these are access to clean water and sanitation, food, decent shelter, energy, health services and education.
The census has shown us that 56 percent of the population does not have electricity, which means the country continues to suffer high rates of deforestation.
Further, 41 percent of Zimbabweans do not own the shelter they live in, 21 percent do not have access to potable water and 32 percent do not have toilets.
Twenty percent of children aged up to 17-years-old have lost one or both parents, while there are 90 000 households headed by teens of up to 19 years of age.
It goes on: 12 percent of the population between the ages of three and 24 have never been to school and 30 percent of them have dropped out of school for one reason or another.
The statistics do not capture other data like access to health, education and legal services within a specified radius as well as income levels, but the truth is clearly coming out that the divide between the haves and the have-nots is widening.
This is the divide that Zim-Asset seeks to bridge by improving livelihoods and it bids us all to play our part. But unless we deal with the scourge of corruption in a robust, deterrent way, the noble objectives of Zim-Asset may remain just that, noble objectives to be pursued but never attained.
We are a well-resourced country that should be able to provide dignified living standards for all citizens but somehow the distribution of resources is such that the rich get richer and the poor get poorer.
Last Saturday, we carried a story in which Harare City officials inexplicably used part of a water loan from China to buy luxury cars.
This is money that should have been invested to ensure that residents have access to clean water. Tighter monitoring of resources and their more equitable allocation to key, basic sectors is what the country needs.
Looters and all who abuse public funds must be made to answer for their actions.
Impunity must have no place in our beautiful country.