Zimbabwean senators recently caused a contentious debate, after supporting a motion discouraging Zimbabweans from embracing birth control because it has allegedly caused a low level of investment in the country.
While moving the motion in the senate late last month, Mashonaland West Senator Mike Byton Musaka said there is a direct correlation between investment and low population, according to Chronicle.
“If you look at the population of Zimbabwe and compare with those countries that are even five times smaller than Zimbabwe, take for example England, it is five times or four times smaller than Zimbabwe. It has got a population of 76 million and the dynamics of development is enormous,” said Musaka.
Musaka and his colleagues believe that the use of birth control in the country has led to a stagnant population, which they say is chasing investors away.
According to Zimbabwe National Statistics Agency (ZNSA), the country has recorded a population growth of 1.1 percent since 2002. As indicated in the agency’s 2012 population census report, the total population of the country is 13.1 million people, with 6.3 million males and 6.7 million females.
The infant mortality rate in Zimbabwe is estimated to be 64 deaths per 1,000 births, with the rate being higher for males than for females. Life expectancy at birth is 38, according to ZNSA.
“The country is vast with many resources but empty. We have no people. We should be serious about development…which investor would come to Zimbabwe to invest seriously for 14 million people?” Senator Musaka contested.
Supporting the motion, Manicaland Senator Monica Mutsvangwa revealed that she and her husband Chris Mutsvangwa (former Zimbabwe ambassador to China) found it extremely difficult to encourage Chinese investors to invest in Zimbabwe because of its small population.
Other senators blamed the use of contraceptives and the desire to have fewer children on colonialism, citing countries like Britain, Germany and France, which have large populations despite their small landmasses.
“When we de-colonized Africa and won the liberation struggle, they [colonizers] sat down with the IMF and World Bank and they came up with human rights issues and started teaching our women and children that you do not need to have many children because of the cost of living. That is a lie,” Midlands Senator Morgen Komichi argued.
Growing the Economy
Many Zimbabweans have expressed their displeasure with the call by senators to stop using contraceptives, insisting that the government should focus on reviving the country’s economy, which is currently at its lowest.
Amos Chiromo wrote on Facebook:
“It will be very disastrous for us to grow our population without ensuring that we have become self-reliant as a people or nation. Our school leavers and graduates are jobless and unproductive.
“If we were to increase their [jobless graduates] number, how would that change our fortunes? 900% of zero is zero.”
Zimbabwe is currently struggling with the highest rate of poverty and unemployment, with the majority of its citizens opting to migrate to neighboring countries for work.