Zimbabwe consults South Africa and Botswana on setting up a motor vehicle accident fund
The Traffic Safety Council of Zimbabwe (TSCZ), a body established by the Traffic Safety Council Act with a mandate to promote safety on the country’s roads, has invited its regional counterparts from South Africa and Botswana to exchange notes on establishing a motor vehicle accident fund.
The fund is meant to compensate accident victims in the country.
The regional delegation which was recently in Zimbabwe comprised of the Road Accident Fund (RAF) of South Africa and the Motor Vehicle Accident (MVA) Fund of Botswana.
The delegation also graced a stakeholder consultative meeting conducted in Harare to consult on the need for the establishment of the fund in Zimbabwe.
The two regional organisations made presentations at the meeting on how they established their funds and their current operational status.
Michael Tlhagwane, CEO of the MVA fund of Botswana, revealed that the fund was established 30 years ago and a 2007 Act was promulgated to facilitate improvements.
The South African delegation also revealed that their fund was initiated in 1942, but in 1996 a new Act was also introduced to improve operations.
Both countries have reported facing challenges of high accident burden highlighting the need to have funding mechanisms in place to compensate accident victims.
Tlhagwane commended the Zimbabwe government, in his presentation on the Botswana motor vehicle accident fund, saying that the move conformed to current on-going regional integration initiatives.
He said that his government was prepared to sign a Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) with Zimbabwe should the country finalise the establishment of its fund.
Botswana already enjoys healthy stakeholder relations with the RAF of South Africa and other such mechanisms from Namibia and Swaziland.
Allowance Sango, director of transport in the ministry of Transport and Infrastructural Development in Zimbabwe, said accidents were always there to stay regardless of mitigation measures.
Sango highlighted the need to set up the motor vehicle accident fund. He said that at least 1,3 million people die every year globally and that Zimbabwe was also contributing to the global statistics.
“At least 50 million people are injured globally every year. In Zimbabwe, at least 45 people are injured daily through road accidents.
We need to take concrete steps to mitigate the burden of road accidents.
We are dealing with the reality of a problem that is here to stay,” Sango said.
He added that Zimbabwe’s government was concerned to care for its citizens, hence the need to initiate the fund.
He said that the idea was mooted seven years back following a visit to Namibia by the then Chief Secretary to Cabinet.
He also said that regional visits have been made to learn from other regional counterparts’ experience.
Sango said Zimbabwe government had decided not to leave it to the private sector the issue of compensating road accident victims.
The stakeholder consultative meeting in Harare was held a day after at least 43 people died in a tragic bus accident along the Harare-Chirundu highway at Nyamakate in Karoi.
The King Lion bus was reported to be mainly carrying cross-border traders from Harare to Zambia.
In Zimbabwe, previous stakeholder consultative meetings on the setting up of the fund have been conducted in Matabeleland, Midlands, Masvingo and Mashonaland West provinces.
Michael Madanha, Zimbabwe’s Deputy Minister of Transport and Infrastructural Development, said that Zimbabwe was one of the few countries in the SADC region which did not have an operational motor vehicle accident fund.
Madanha said that according to local statistics, a road accident occurs in Zimbabwe every 15 minutes and five people are killed every day on the country’s roads.
“On average, we have about 1 700 fatalities and over 30 000 people injured every year. These statistics, though frightening, must always be remembered so that we come up with a viable and sustainable fund which takes into consideration our country’s current economic realities,” Madanha said.
He added that Zimbabwe government had noted with concern the challenges that arise in the post-crash phase. He said key among these are delays experienced in securing rescue ambulance services as well as challenges related to getting the injured admitted in hospitals.
Madanha added that the idea of setting up the fund is also in line with the dictates of the United Nations Decade of Road Safety Action implementation programme which Zimbabwe is signatory to and was launched in the country in 2011.
The issue of road accident funds is covered under pillar number 5 on post-crash response. Under that pillar, the country is expected to increase responsiveness to post-crash emergencies, provide appropriate emergency treatment, have longer term rehabilitation for crash victims, minimize both physical and psychological trauma and have accessible and affordable road user insurance schemes to finance rehabilitation.
Madanha also says that he has sold the concept of setting up the fund to cabinet and has been tasked to refine the idea and submit it for consideration. His ministry has also set up a steering committee comprising private and public sector to drive the initiative forward.
“Assuming the national response to the proposal is positive, we will then begin drafting the legal framework and the institutional arrangements as well as seeking all the necessary authorisations, with the intention of getting the fund operational by 2018,” Madanha said.