by DANAI MWARUMBA
HARARE, (CAJ News) – THE cash-strapped Zimbabwean government is considering barter trade with China and Russia in exchange for medical drugs that are in short supply in the Southern African country.
Government officials confirmed the arrangement but could not immediately disclose the commodities the minerals-rich country would offer the two Asian nations.
In a joint media briefing, Ministers of Health and Information, Obadiah Moyo and Monica Mutsvangwa, respectively, said the procurement of drugs would alleviate the suffering of the masses, who were left stranded as the government did not have foreign currency to buy the medicines.
“The government is exploring innovative ways of stocking drugs in various hospitals. Barter trade with China and Russia will always come in handy,” Moyo said.
To date, Zimbabwe has procured $2 million (R28,14 million) worth of medicine from Denmark and secured $25 million (R351,75 million) of medicines from Gemcorp.
It has received a donation of $2 million worth of drugs from China Polaris.
Mutsvangwa, meanwhile disclosed government was working towards establishing a speciality hospital wing under the Parirenyatwa Group of Hospitals to address the prevailing situation where patients in need of specialist services are forced to seek treatment outside the country.
Zimbabwe’s health sector is in intensive care following years of economic decline and strikes by medical professionals.
The barter trade with China and Russia comes as Zimbabwe strengthens relations with the Brazil, Russia, India, China and South Africa (BRICS) bloc after strained relations with the West.
South African president, Cyril Ramaphosa, is due in Zimbabwe in March when he leads a delegation from the neighbouring country to cement bilateral relations.
Ramaphosa’s International Relations and Cooperation Minister, Lindiwe Sisulu, said calls for the lifting of sanctions against Zimbabwe would top the agenda.
“I thought by now sanctions imposed on Zimbabwe Government and its people would be lifted to enable the country to start afresh after all the challenges they have gone through,” Sisulu said.
Western nations imposed the sanctions following human rights abuses by the administration of then-President Robert Mugabe.
Emmerson Mnangagwa has succeeded him.
“Without lifting the sanctions, the Government of Zimbabwe will never be able to address its economic challenges. This is compromising the political gains achieved since the coming in of the new President,” Sisulu said.
– CAJ News