Invest in citizens’ health, not military – African govts told

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By Staff Reporter

MUTARE: African countries should shift from a culture of investing heavily on military and give priority to health of citizens, an economist said.

Labour and Economic Development Research Institute of Zimbabwe (LEDRIZ) chief economist Prosper Chitambara said this while addressing media in the eastern border city last week.

He said poor countries, particularly in Africa, invest heavily in military at the expense of the health of their nations.

“Poor countries spend less on health and more on military. Military in Africa is largely recurrent,” he said citing Eritrea where government spends 1, 5% of its Gross Domestic Product (GDP) on health and seven percent on military and yet it is one of the poorest countries in the world.

“Developed countries, yes, they also spend heavily on military but military is industrialising those nations. Rich countries have created a military industry. For example China, Russia, United Kingdom, United State of America have thriving military sectors,” said Chitambara.

He urged the Zimbabwean government to invest more in rural agricultural development to boost the ailing economy.

Chitambara argued that rural agriculture has always been the key factor behind the success of the country`s economy further citing the post independence era when the country was regarded as the breadbasket of Africa.

“Instead of the government to continue giving inputs like grain and fertilisers, it should focus on investments such as infrastructure and energy in the rural areas so that farmers will be capacitated to produce adequately,” said Chitambara.

“If you want to develop you need to follow principles of development. You should not wish yourself into development but you must invest into development. Zimbabwe is a highly driven consumption economy and we should know that development is not mysterious.”

The Ledriz economist said government should forgo political expediency in order to develop the country.

“This is why Rwanda has managed to develop despite its democratic deficits because they have mastered the principles of development. When politicians make decisions, they should make decisions that benefit citizens not them,” said Chitambara.