By Robert Tapfumaneyi
NATIONAL Aids Council (NAC) said its operations were severely hampered by the Covid-19 pandemic as its main source of revenue, the Aids Levy, comes from the tax base.
However, revenue from this cash cow was has depleted significantly after a majority of employees lost their jobs last year and in 2021 due to the coronavirus pandemic.
This was confirmed by NAC finance director Godfrey Muzari who was addressing journalists in Chinhoyi Friday.
He said the income from the Aids Levy was further hampering operations as it was insufficient when it was converted to United States dollars.
“National Aids Council was hit harder as the council’s main source of revenue is Aids Levy collections derived from the tax base,” Muzari said.
“NAC collected over ZW$1 billion from the ZW$885 billion they had targeted for 2020 and that has to be converted to United States dollars. In Zimbabwean dollar terms, it seems maybe from the figures, we exceeded the target but from the finance point of view, it’s not the correct picture because it’s the Zim dollar.
“The Zim dollar was affected and is still affected by inflation. If you convert these figures from my analysis in terms of reaching the target, we did not manage to reach it if you changed the figures to the real money. The effects of Covid-19 were more disastrous in Zimbabwe as the country was already in an economic crisis.”
He said NAC needed foreign currency to procure anti-retroviral (ARV) drugs.
Muzari added; “Since the pandemic caught the country by surprise, no funds were set aside to deal with it, and like any other sector of the economy, HIV programming was also negatively affected by the prevention restrictions adopted by the government.
“Collection of medicines from health centres was very difficult, information dissemination was also a challenge as some of the methods were not effective and too hard to reach areas.
“Broadly, Covid-19 affected the NAC target population (People Living With HIV and AIDS) as they are part of the population classified as people with underlying conditions and at high risk.”