BULAWAYO, Zimbabwe, Feb 23 2016 (IPS) – Sijabuliso Nleya has been kept busy in the past few weeks digging up sand. He is not a sand poacher like scores of people who local district councils across the country say are digging along dry river beds for sand used in the construction of houses. “The situation is terrible,” said Nleya, who owns a plot in Douglasdale, a small farming community on the outskirts of Bulawayo.
Together with other men, he has been filling up dry wells and boreholes, as groundwater increasingly becomes an unforeseen casualty of climate change, thanks to the absence of rainfall for long periods across the country. “The dry wells have become dangerous when in the past they were a source of our livelihood. It’s better to fill them with sand than dream that they will provide us with water one day,” Nleya told IPS. Continue reading Groundwater Crisis Worsens Food Insecurity→
Tsholotsho — Justin Dlomo watches his small herd of emaciated cattle scrounge for bits of dry grass with a growing sense of dread.
“I don’t even know what to do anymore,” he says.
Worsening drought in Zimbabwe has dried up water holes, crops and pasture, leaving farmers like 56-year-old Dlomo, who lives about 120 kilometers north of Bulawayo, unable to feed their animals – and unable to sell them for much either.
“We are all selling off our livestock. Better that than watch the cattle die,” Dlomo told Thomson Reuters Foundation.
But because so many desperate farmers now have animals on the market, a cow that used to sell for $500 now fetches just $150 – or in some places as little as $50 – from buyers in the cities.
Rights groups scored a victory when a tea estate ended its ‘earn and learn’ scheme. But without further support, the situation facing former child workers is arguably as dire as ever.
In the rural district of Chipinge in eastern Zimbabwe, lush green tea plants cover the gentle slopes and valleys, painting a picturesque image. However, until a couple of years ago, this idyllic landscape was tainted by a less scenic reality.
For half a century, the Tanganda Tea Company, which grows tea in across 2,600 hectares, ran a so-called Earn and Learn scheme whereby children would work on the fields in return for educational support. The company boasted that the programs provided an education to under-privileged children. But rights groups accused it of exploitation and described the young workers’ deep scars, chapped hands and high drop-out rate.
Two years ago, a midst media criticism and concerns about its international reputation, Tanganda finally submitted to pressure and abandoned the scheme. However in the absence of a safety net for the students who were part of the programs, the situation facing Chipinge’s children has changed but arguably not got any better. Continue reading Zimbabwe: when ending child labor does not end child exploitation→
Mail & Guardian For first time in over 15 years, Mugabe openly asked for Western re-engagement in the ailing Zimbabwe economy in his State of the Nation address.
Zimbabwe President Robert Mugabe said Tuesday in his first State of the Nation address in eight years that he welcomed Western assistance in his country’s economy – the first such statement in a decade and a half of strained relations with the US and Europe.
The 91-year-old veteran president was booed and heckled by opposition politicians over the deteriorating economy as he delivered a policy speech that lasted less than half an hour in Parliament.
Mugabe also called for strengthening of ties with multilateral institutions, which include the International Monetary Fund (IMF) and the World Bank.
For most people in the southern African nation, where unemployment tops 80 percent and the economy continues to feel the after-effects of billion percent hyperinflation a decade ago, the uproar had all the hallmarks of a ‘First World Problem.’
As social media exploded with outrage this week at the killing of Cecil the lion, the untimely passing of the celebrated predator at the hands of an American dentist went largely unnoticed in the animal’s native Zimbabwe.
“What lion?” acting information minister Prisca Mupfumira asked in response to a request for comment about Cecil, who was at that moment topping global news bulletins and generating reams of abuse for his killer on websites in the United States and Europe.
The government has still given no formal response, and on Thursday the papers that chose to run the latest twist in the Cecil saga tucked it away on inside pages.
One title had to rely on foreign news agency copy because it failed to send a reporter to the court appearance of two locals involved.
In contrast, the previous evening 200 people stood in protest outside the suburban Minneapolis dental practice of 55-year-old Walter Palmer, calling for him to be extradited to Zimbabwe to face charges of taking part in an illegal hunt.
Local police are also investigating death threats against Palmer, whose location is not known.
Because many of the threats were online, police are having difficulty determining their origins and credibility.
Palmer, a lifelong big game hunter, has admitted killing Cecil with a bow and arrow on July 1 near Zimbabwe’s Hwange national park, but said he had hired professional local guides with the required hunting permits and believed the hunt was legal.
For most people in the southern African nation, where unemployment tops 80 percent and the economy continues to feel the after-effects of billion percent hyperinflation a decade ago, the uproar had all the hallmarks of a ‘First World Problem’.
“Are you saying that all this noise is about a dead lion? Lions are killed all the time in this country,” said Tryphina Kaseke, a used-clothes hawker on the streets of Harare.
“What is so special about this one?”
As with many countries in Africa, in Zimbabwe big wild animals such as lions, elephants or hippos are seen either as a potential meal, or a threat to people and property that needs to be controlled or killed.
The world of Palmer, who paid $50,000 (Sh5.1 million) to kill 13-year-old Cecil, is a very different one from that inhabited by millions of rural Africans who are more than occasionally victims of wild animal attacks.
According to CrocBITE, a database, from January 2008 to October 2013, there were more than 460 recorded attacks by Nile crocodiles, most of them fatal.
That tally is almost certainly a massive underrepresentation.
“Why are the Americans more concerned than us?” said Joseph Mabuwa, a 33-year-old father-of-two cleaning his car in the centre of the capital.
“We never hear them speak out when villagers are killed by lions and elephants in Hwange.”
LUPANE, Zimbabwe, Jun 3 2015 (IPS) – Seventy-seven-year-old Grace Ngwenya has an eye for detail. You will never catch her squinting as she effortlessly weaves ilala palm fronds into beautiful baskets.
Her actions are swift and methodical as she twirls, straightens and tugs the long strands into a fine stitch. Periodically she pauses to dip the last three fingers of her right hand into a shallow tin of water that sits beside her, to wet the fibres and make them pliable.
Slowly, under the deft motion of her hands, a basket takes shape. She insists on attention to “detail, neatness and creativity.” Once she has decided on the shape and colour of her product, she will work for seven days straight to complete the task.
“Working together as women has united us, and strengthened our community spirit.”
— Lisina Moyo, a member of the Lupane Women’s Centre (LWC)
When she’s done, the basket will be inspected for quality, carefully packed up, and shipped off to its buyer who could be anywhere in the world from Germany to the United States. Her efforts earn her about 50 dollars a month – a small fortune in a place where women once counted it a blessing to earn even a few dollars in the course of several weeks.
Ngwenya lives in Shabula village in Ward 15 of Zimbabwe’s arid Lupane District, located in the Matabeleland North Province that occupies the western-most region of the country, 170 km from the nearest city of Bulawayo.
Home to about 90,000 people, this area is prone to droughts and has a harsh history of hunger.
Today, rural women are putting Lupane District on the map with an innovative basket-weaving enterprise that is earning them a decent wage, preserving an indigenous skill and enabling them to erect a barrier against extreme weather events by investing the profits of their creativity into sustainable farming.