55 village groups train in project management

Lazarus Sauti

FIFTY-FIVE community groups in Chikomba East constituency recently benefited from a project management training programme facilitated by Reaction of Orphans Support Association (Rosa).

And Rosa seemed to respond to J Phillips who said: “running a project without a work breakdown structure is like going to a strange land without a road map”.

Phillip’s quote inspires Forbes Chikobvu to help establish Rosa – a civic society organisation that is initiating various projects in Chikomba East constituency to help villagers with project management training as an effective way to fight poverty.

“We are helping villagers here in Chikomba East Constituency to start income-generating projects such as horticulture, soap-making, poultry rearing, dress making and goat as well as sheep rearing. Our goal is to empower and transform villagers,” said Chikobvu.

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Rosa recently carried out a project management training programme at Mangoro Primary School.

The training workshop was facilitated by a Canadian delegation from the Zimbabwe Project Canada, an organisation that supports Rosa in its developmental projects.

“We trained 55 groups with eight to 10 members each as well as new villagers who are eager to join the life-changing projects. We taught them how to write project proposals, how to start and run sustainable projects, monitoring and evaluation as well as market research,” said Chikobvu, adding: “Our goal is to help villagers achieve their desired goals. Remember, running a project without a plan is like going to an alien land without a roadmap.”

He also said Rosa mooted the plan of project management training after realising that most business ventures in the area were failing to succeed simply because members lack a better understanding of the various aspects of project management, from financial information to human resources.

Netsai Mutengwa, 32, member of a horticulture (gardening) project, applauded Chikobvu and his team for imparting her with the valuable information on project management.

“I benefited a lot from the project management training workshop organised by Rosa and facilitated by members of the Zimbabwe Project Canada,” she said, adding, “I am now knowledgeable on how to run projects, especially developing the project plan as well as making decisions about how the project should be carried out.”

Ward 27 Pokoteke councillor Lawrence Watambwa said the training is coming at the right time as most projects were failing to succeed due to lack of knowledge.

“Most, if not all, people here struggle to prolong their various business projects due to lack of skills and knowledge. One team that is doing sheep and goat rearing, for instance, lost about 10 goats due to lack of information to save the animals,” he said.

Watambwa added: “I want to thank Rosa for carrying out this training as it helps villagers to understand the parameters and requirements of different types of projects.”

Chief Chitsunge said the workshop is a game-changer and it was hope that Rosa will target more villagers and transform the lives of many.

“Muchivanhu chedu tinoti akupa damba ndewako. This project is good and we are 100 percent behind it as many villagers are benefiting,” he said. “Most importantly, school children are now going to school, thanks to this initiative.”

Headmaster at Mangoro Primary School, Manassah Watambwa, concurred saying various projects in the area uplifted villagers and decreased the number of school drop-outs.

“Families are realising money from various projects initiated by Rosa, meaning they can now afford to pay fees for their children,” he said.

(c) Weekendpost, April 14-20, 2017.

Indeed, the wounded deer leaps the highest

Lazarus Sauti

He is one of the most prolific as well as respected writers in Zimbabwe and his works include poetry – which he describes as a ‘mere finger exercise’, children’s books, plays, short stories and novels in both Shona and English languages.

Notable titles of his works include Ndiko Kupindana Kwamazuva (1975), Makunun’unu Maodzamoyo (1977), Inongova Njake Njake (1980), Kunyarara Hakusi Kutaura? (1983), Coming of the Dry Season (1972), Waiting for the Rain (1975), The Setting Sun and Rolling World (1987), Stories from a Childhood (1989), One Day Long Ago: More Stories from a Shona Childhood (1991), Walking Still (short stories, 1997), The Milkman Doesn’t Only Deliver Milk (1998) and Branching Streams Flow in the Dark (2013).

His name, ladies and gentlemen, is none other than Charles Lovemore Mungoshi, an award-winning Zimbabwean writer.

The awards he has amassed include the International PEN Awards (1975, 1981 and 1998), Noma Honourable Awards for Publishing in Africa (1980, 1984, 1990 and 1992), as well as the Commonwealth Writers Prize (African region) twice in 1988 and 1998.

Mungoshi is so famous in Zimbabwe and other countries, and with his creative works, he should be able to make a comfortable living just like some writers in Africa and other parts of the world, but the book sector in Zimbabwe is so punishing to the extent that the celebrated writer is not even enjoying the fruits of his fame and hardwork.

Recently, his family sourced for $9 000 required for a repeat operation after doctors inserted a shunt to drain water from his brain last year.

This forced readers, writers and publishers to question the seriousness of Zimbabwe, especially when it comes to taking care of its writers, who contribute immensely to the socio-economic development of the country.

These readers, writers and publishers think the country is only concerned about the writer’s brains not their welfares and believe the time is now ripe for Zimbabwe to create an enabling environment for its writers to enjoy the fruits of their artistic endeavours.

Publisher, photojournalist, social media consultant and poet, Takudzwa Chikepe, says book piracy, which is a spreading like wildfires, is tolerated in this country and it is crippling the book sector.

“Book piracy, which is being pushed by the boom in the printing industry, information technology, survival know-how, economic meltdown, students, informal book traders, school heads and university lecturers, is affecting the development of the book sector in Zimbabwe,” he says.

Tamara Jena, an avid book lover, also says book piracy, whether in print or digital form, is the ‘cancer’ that has decimated Mungoshi and other writers’ incomes, forcing them to live in dire poverty.

Some of the authors, she says, die without having properties to their names, a development that demotivates young writers and stifle the sustainable development of the sector.

“Although illustrious Brazilian author, Paulo Coelho, believes piracy – the unauthorised use of copyrighted works – is like a medal to any writer, whose biggest reward is being read, this ‘cancer’ is widespread in Zimbabwe with every street corner in the country home to stalls of pirated texts,” she says. “What pains most is the fact that we often support this heinous crime.”

Book piracy, adds poet Proud Mutauto, is an illicit venture that cannibalises not just the efforts as well as investments of authors such as Mungoshi, but government revenue since those who operate under the radar dodge paying taxes.

“Book piracy is damaging publishers, writers as well as the country’s knowledge base as it discourages authors to write books and make a contribution to our society,” he says, adding that when content creators such as writers stop writing, the future of the education sector is badly affected.

In 2014, veteran writer, Ignatius Mabasa, contemplated quitting writing books, thanks to book piracy.

“In three years, I earned nothing from a book that has been a national school set text. My publisher is fighting demons in the form of book pirates, photocopying technology and weak copyright infringement laws and we are both victims, but of the two victims, I am worse off,” he said.

“US poet Emily Dickson once said, “the wounded dear leaps the highest.” Today, i feel like that proverbial dear.”

Mabasa added, “This is why I am asking myself why I should continue investing my time and energy in a business without returns.”

Concurring, Mutauto says what is painful and disturbing is that writers are earning peanuts from their creative works while pirates are lining their pockets after selling their books.

In an environment like us, he adds, publishers should work together with development partners to revive their businesses as well as carter for their writers’ wellbeing.

Chikepe also urges schools and readers to be cautious on being deceived into purchasing illegal copies as they have poor print quality.

“Most pirated copies carry wrong content while some have incorrect, mixed up or missing pages,” he says. “We should, therefore, protect the writer and help the readers and for this to be effective, parents, schools and other readers should just shun such substandard copies.”

The government, Chikepe adds, together with stakeholders in the publishing and production sector should engage in a wide-range of awareness-raising programmes so as to reduce the level of piracy affecting our book industry.

“Organisations such as African Regional Intellectual Property Organisation (ARIPO) should provide assistance to the government, authors and other stakeholders in the book sector in identifying ways to tackle specific cases of copyright infringement.

Librarian, Lawrence Mbanje, believes revitalising library and information centres plus opening new bookstores can provide some hope in fighting piracy.

“The government should support libraries and bookstores as well as invest in book development,” he says.
He also urges law enforcers to arrest pirates as well as photocopy businesses that are booming around educational institutions.

“Legislators must come up with harsh anti-piracy laws,” he says, adding that college and university lecturers, since they are at the epitome of our education system, should promote and protect intellectual property rights.

Information Technology specialist, George Magombeyi, says the country should embrace electronic systems and come up with an information technology-based solution that instantly informs a customer if s/he has bought a genuine or pirated book.

The Kenya Publishers Association in partnership with the Ministry of Education as well as the Kenya Institute of Curriculum Development, for instance, developed an electronic tool to curb book piracy that threatens the multi-billion publishing sector and the book industry in the country.

The tool has first been embedded on this year’s Literature and Fasihi set book, which are Kigogo by Pauline Kea, The Pearl by John Steinbeck, Tumbo Lisiloshiba na Hadithi
Nyingine by Said Mohammed and Memories We Lost and Other Stories by Chris Wanjala.

These books have been fixed with distinctive hidden numbers at the front, inside or back which buyers can use to prove whether they are authentic or pirated copies.

Using mobile technology, the initiative makes it possible for parents, teachers as well as students to discern between authentic and reproduced copies simply by tracking each and every uniquely serialised book.

“Zimbabwe should follow and expand on this noble idea as it allows one person to buy a book so as to ensure survival of publishers and writers and the preservation of our culture,” says Magombeyi.

Insidious alien species threat to livelihoods, biodiversity

Lazarus Sauti

After habitat destruction, invasive alien plant and animal species are proving to be the biggest threat to biodiversity in Zimbabwe as they are altering intact habitats, placing ecosystems at great risk as well as displacing indigenous species that are beneficial to an environment.

Multiple species of armyworm moths, for instance, are putting down to waste huge areas of farmland across Zimbabwe, threatening livelihoods and food security in the country still wobbling from a ravaging spell of drought.

These moths raze like swarms of locusts, a fact supported by the United Nations Food and Agriculture Organisation (FAO), which reports that the invasion includes both the native African armyworm (Spodoptera exempta), plus the vicious fall armyworm (Spodoptera frugiperda) – alien species that originated in the America’s.

Entomologist, Dr. Godfrey Chikwenhere, says these invasive non-indigenous species can lay six generations of around 50 eggs in a single location, leading to rapid colonisation, as well as destruction of territory.

In Matabeleland South Province, an invading thorn shrub Cactus Rosea (Opuntia Fulgida), which originated from South Africa and was first detected in 2010, is also ravaging the environment, claiming close to 3 000 hectares of land in Gwanda, Matobo, Beitbridge, Bulilima, Insiza and Mangwe.

The shrub, according to the Environmental Management Agency (EMA), is deadly as it reproduces vegetatively and holds back the germination and growth of all native flora under its canopy.

Farmers in Matabeleland and other areas are losing their livestock, thanks to this noxious shrub, further entrenching them into dire poverty.

The impacts of alien invasive species such as the fall armyworm and Cactus Rosea are massive, dangerous and permanent, says researcher, Vengai Badza, adding: “Some of the infamous plant culprits are Lantana camara – a noxious terrestrial weed, and water hyacinth (Eichhornia crassipes) – an aquatic nuisance that blankets water bodies, especially if accompanied by eutrophication.”

EMA adds that the water hyacinth occurs in most parts of the country’s polluted water bodies like Lake Chivero as well as Manyame River in Harare and Shagashe River in Masvingo.

As for Mutare-based ecologist, Sheila Mutize, the proliferation and assault of invasive alien species in the vein of Pinus, Eucalyptus, Acacia and L.camara in the Eastern Highlands of Zimbabwe have killed thousands of trees, especially Eucalyptus trees – famously known as gum trees in the country.

“Eucalyptus and other tree species in Eastern Highlands, as well as some parts of Zimbabwe are in serious trouble, thanks to an onslaught of invasive alien pests first detected in 2015,” she says. “These alien pests affect almost all growth stages of the tree.”

The Zimbabwe Forestry Commission blames climate change for the surge in invasive alien species that are ravaging the country’s immaculate forests and plantations, a fact supported by the Ministry of Environment, Water and Climate, which adds that Zimbabwe has a deforestation rate of 330 000 trees per year.

From 2015, estimates the ministry, at least 43 000 eucalyptus trees and close to 24 000 trees of other species surrendered to invasive forest pests alone.

Fast becoming the new drivers of desertification, says environmentalist, Edson Nyahwa, insidious alien species come in the form of plants, animals and microbes that have been introduced into an area from other parts of the world.

“The spread of these alien species is also strongly linked with human activities such as urbanisation, disintegration of the natural environment and agriculture,” he adds.

Invasive species not only cause environmental damage and crop loses, but also impact schooling as children, especially from poverty-stricken families are forced to help with weeding.

According to the United Kingdom’s Centre for Agriculture and Bioscience International (CABI), rural women and children in most developing states like Zimbabwe spend about 200 hours per year weeding out persistent alien species from family farms.

The economic and social brunts of invasive alien species, notes economist Kudzai Manyanga, are negative impacts on health, over and above decreases in economic production of activities based on biodiversity.

Zimbabwe is not the only country in southern Africa that is battling invasive alien species as Zambia is also vulnerable to invasive pests, according to Moses Mwale of the Zambia Agricultural Research Institute.

Invasions of different alien species have also been reported in Namibia and Malawi, and David Phiri, FAO Subregional Coordinator for Southern Africa, adds that such invasions could potentially have a devastating impact on food security.

Despite their social, economic and environmental impacts, avows Badza, Zimbabwe still lacks information on the presence and distribution of invasive allien species as well as the strategies and policies needed to properly manage this increasingly urgent menace.

“This low public concern about alien plants and animal species is hampering conservation efforts in the country as communities battle the rapid decline of pristine habitats,” he adds.

Consequently, agronomist Rudo Muteeri believes controlling invasive allien species will play a crucial part in protecting the country’s biodiversity, as well as achieving the second Sustainable Development Goal which aims to end hunger, achieve food security and improve nutrition.

“This, therefore, means policy development, capacity building and coordination among researchers, scientists and stakeholders in the environment sectors are needed if the country is to effectively control the threats of invasive alien species and protect the environment,” she adds.

Muteeri also urges the government, scientists and other development partners to invest in research and development programmes that help farmers, especially in remote parts of the country to either defeat or adapt to the presence of invasive allien species.

“In everything, prevention is better than cure; the country, therefore, needs funds for research, development and technology to get the job done properly,” she adds.

Development practitioner, Stancelous Mverechena, adds that there is urgent need to develop bio-security measures to prevent the invasive alien species problem from becoming more serious.

He also urges the country to look for scientific solutions that are environmentally friendly and affordable for poorer communities.

“The private sector, non-governmental organisations, the media and literate farmers should partner the government in developing ‘knowledge banks’ so as to share experiences and research findings,” he adds.

Agriculturalist, Dickson Matenda, believes biological controls can be safe, sustainable and economically feasible options to manage persistent strange species that are destroying the environment and fueling foot shortages in the country.

“Safer pest control is possible,” he says, but its implementation will require political will and support from the donor support.

Matenda also says agriculturalist and entomologists working with invasive species need better training on how to communicate the risks posed by invasive allien species so as to effectively educate the people living with and using alien plants or animals every day.

He also strongly encourages the government to collaborate with researchers and scientists in the country and thrive to meet global targets to invasive alien species, such as the Aichi Biodiversity Target 9, which notes that by 2020, invasive allien species and pathways should be identified, prioritised, controlled or eradicated.

Curb tyre-related accidents

Lazarus Sauti

Operating from Kamunhu Shopping Centre in Mabvuku, a suburb 17 km east of Harare, John Mwale is making a killing by mending, re-mending, as well as selling ‘tired’ tyres to motorists, especially kombi operators.

“I fix and sell second-hand tyres to motorists, especially kombi operators and pirate taxis for US$15 or US$20 depending on the quality and I am recording brisk business,” he says.

“Sizes 14 and 15 are my cash cows as they are popular with kombi operators. Thanks to this business, I am feeding my family as well as paying fees for my two lovely children.”

Mwale also says the prices of his second-hand tyres make it more convenient for transport operators to go for them as compared to brand new ones which are priced between US$80 and US$125 depending with the type as well as the shop one is buying from.

“Kutsvaga kurarama wangu. Zvinhu zviri kunetsa; vatyairi vazhinji vari kumhanyira kwatiri. Things are bad economically and most drivers are opting for second-hand tyres,” he adds.

Mwale is not the only person recording brisk business fixing, re-repairing and selling ‘tired’ tyres, popularly known as nyoka (snakes) due to their lack of threads, as unemployed youths in the country are setting up tyre repair workshops under trees.

Sadly, these youth are ignorant to the fact that the worn-out tyres they are selling are vulnerable to tyre burst, a serious cause of terrible road accidents around the country.

Accordingly, the country is paying dearly the costs of using ‘tired’ tyres, and figures from the Zimbabwe Republic Police (ZRP) show that more than six percent of fatal accidents which occurred between the 1st of August 2016 and the 31st of December 2016 were as a result of tyre bursts.

These bursts, according to the police, were mainly caused by adverse weather conditions which affect the efficiency of tyres, overloading, speeding, under-inflation, over-inflation, and poor road conditions.

Chief police spokesperson Senior Assistant Commissioner Charity Charamba, conversely, says the police are worried with the surge in fatal accidents caused by tyre defects, but motorist Robson Wagoneka blames the same police for ‘coating a bitter pill with chocolate’.

“The police are only concerned about fire extinguishers, reflectors over and above triangles while ignoring second-hand tyres that are proving costly to the country’s human capital base,” he says.

Wagoneka adds: “They are throwing spikes and damaging tyres; sadly, kombi and taxi pirate drivers are not replacing these damaged tyres with brand new ones, but recycling ‘tired’ tyres, putting the lives of innocent people at risk.”

Collin Sandu, an accident victim from Tafara, says most people who are buying cars from Japan are not changing the tyres and this is also fueling tyre-induced accidents in the country.

“Although the tyres look fairly new, they suffer varied weather conditions elsewhere before landing in this country,” he says.

“Further, every car model has its own type of tyres it uses, and adherence to this specification provides safety, grip plus the ability to carry load.”

Traffic Safety Council of Zimbabwe board member, Allowance Sango, believes should shun ‘tired’ tyres from informal traders like Mwale and others.

“The government, under Statutory 64 of 2016, banned the importation of second-hand tyres (all re-treaded or used pneumatic tyres of rubber). Accordingly, motorists should shun ‘tired’ tyres from unceremonious dealers like Mwale as they are prone to bursts and causing accidents,” he says.

Sango also recommends transport operators to religiously follow the lettering signs marked on every tyre by manufacturers when buying new tyres.

“Lettering signs such as ‘P’ for passenger car tyre and ‘LT’ for a light truck car determine if the tyres are authentic and fit for the vehicle. As such, transport operators should hold fast to these lettering signs,” he says.

Every tyre has its life cycles, says George Goliati of the Passengers Association of Zimbabwe.

He affirms that tyres can also expire even when not in use

“Consequently, and in the interest of safety, motorists should simply stick on to expiry dates as well as guard against using ‘tired’ tyres, many of which are beyond threading, but retreaded and sold illicitly around the country,” says Goliati.

He also encourages motorists to watch out for counterfeit tyres – illicit copies of respected brands simply by looking for the Standard Association of Zimbabwe (SAZ) stamp and/or other approved standards institutions.

As for road technician, Arlington Dzawo, lumps on side walls should be looked for on the tyres during periodic checks and if any is found, the tyre should be replaced without delay.

“During checks, it is also important to remove any glass, metal or stones stuck into the threads promptly as they can cause air loss,” he says.

Dzawo also thinks wheel balancing and alignment must be checked at intervals of about six months not ignoring the need to rotate the tyres periodically.

“Motorists should be aware of the fact that the older a tyre gets, the higher the risk of sudden and unexpected thread separation,” he adds. “For that reason, technocrats, policy makers, tyre manufacturers and dealers should join hands and educate the public, particularly transport owners and drivers, on the dangers inherent in the usage of substandard tyres.”

Banning second-hand tyres, says economist Rutendo Musharu, is noble, but the government should improve the economy which is forcing motorists to jostle for second hand tyres, as well as capacitate local tyre manufacturing firms.

“Improving the economy is the way to go. The economy if forcing people like Mwale to sell ‘tired’ tyres and these tyres are a thorn in our flesh as they are causing accidents and untold sufferings,” she says.

“The government, at every level, therefore, needs also monitor all tyre dealers in the country if it is serious with curbing tyre-induced accidents.”

Musharu also encourages the government to fund research and development as an avenue to come up with new plans, strategies and policies of dealing with tyre-related accidents.

Importantly, in August last year, the Zimbabwe Republic Police and the Traffic Safety Council of Zimbabwe carried out research on accidents involving tyre ruptures, and Transport and Infrastructural Development Minister, Dr. Joram Gumbo, says the research results could lead to legislation obliging motorists who import second-hand vehicles from Asia and Europe to change the tyres before using the vehicles in the country.

Chores denying Zim girls their childhood joy

Lazarus Sauti

Ten-year old Amanda Sakai (not her real name because she is a minor) from Mabvuku, a high density suburb some 17 kilometres east of Harare, the capital city of Zimbabwe, wakes early to wash plates and sweep the yard before spending her day selling vegetables, tomatoes, biscuits and sweets at her mother’s table instead of going to school.

She is not the only girl in this tight spot as twelve-year old Purity Mwale (also not real name) from a low-income Chinyika area of Goromonzi, a district of Mashonaland East Province, also wakes early to do household chores.

Mwale started helping around the house when she was seven years old.

“I clean the house, do the dishes and cook food for the family. I also sweep around the yard and occasionally, I have to do laundry for my brother and two sisters,” she says.

Mwale, who is a student at Chinyika Primary School, adds: “I am usually late for classes. Teachers used to punish me, but they are now sending me back home.”

What pains me, she adds, is that my brother is 15 and hardly helps with household chores.

“My parents support it, especially my father who always says my brother cannot do ‘girls’ stuff’ when I am around,” Mwale says. “I wish boys and girls could do household chores together simply because there is no work that was designed specifically for girls or boys.”

Reverend Taylor Nyanhete, Zimbabwe National Council for the Welfare of Children national director, says as children like Sakai and Mwale grow, it is important for parents and guardians to impact life skills to them.

He believes chores and skills like bathing, cooking, cleaning rooms, washing dishes and fetching water as well as firewood are important in latter life, but should be age-appropriate.

“Chores should not be for hours on end. They should not also interfere with children’s rights to play and do school work,” he says. “We have seen children begging on the streets and hand over the money to adults. This is not right.”

Gender activist, Anoziva Marindire, says children’s rights, especially those of girls are violated on a daily basis.

“Girls and boys are not equal at all. Girls spend more time doing household chores while boys are pampered and sent to school,” she says. “This uneven distribution of household chores has negative impacts on their childhood, their health and education.”

Sociologist, Admire Mare, concurs.

“Given the patriarchal nature of our society, girls spend most their childhood juggling different chores which impacts negatively on their school work.

“Unlike boys, most girls struggle to do their school work at home and when they do, it is usually in the wee hours when everyone is asleep,” he says.

The gendered distribution of domestic duties, adds Mare, can socialise girls into thinking that such chores are designed for girls and women only, limiting their dreams and ambitions.

“Naturally, there are domestic duties that children do to help their families in ways that are neither damaging nor exploitative, but many children are stuck in unacceptable work for them – a grave violation of their rights,” he adds.

Shingirayi Jena of Rudo Trust says while both boys and girls in Zimbabwe face huge challenges, gender discrimination and norms multiply the risks and burdens for girls.

He adds that household chores are not only limiting girls like Amanda and Purity’s chances of enjoying the pleasures and leisure of childhood, including time to play and build social networks, but also forcing some of them out of school, a fact supported by the United Nations Children’s Fund, in its October 2016 report, “Harnessing the Power of Data for Girls: Taking stock and looking ahead to 2030”.

The report says girls between five and 14 years old spend 40 percent more time, or 160 million more hours a day, on unpaid household chores and collecting water and firewood compared to boys their age.

“Girls also perform more ‘less visible’ domestic work like childcare or looking after the elderly. As a result, they miss out on important opportunities to learn and grow,” notes the report.

Some household chores that rely heavily on the use of fossil fuels, dust and burning of waste also expose children, especially girls to indoor air pollution, according to a Unicef report, “Clear the Air for Children: The impact of air pollution on children (October 2016)”.

“Outdoor and indoor air pollution is a major contributing factor in the deaths of around 600 000 children under five every year – and it threatens the lives and futures of millions more every day,” adds the report.

Denboy Kudejira, a development consultant, adds that chores such as collecting firewood and water often results in injuries, especially to young girls and also puts them at the risk of sexual violence while travelling back and forth.

A 15-year old girl, for instance, was recently gang-raped in Sunningdale at around 2000 hours while she was on her way to fetch water from a borehole.

Chief police spokesperson Senior Assistant Commissioner Charity Charamba said four unknown male adults attacked and took her to an open space, 150 metres away from her home.

Two of the accused persons then took turns to rape her after threatening her with a knife.

Mare, however, says gender roles, as well as sexual division of labour must not be seen as cast in stone.

“In fact, it must be flexible enough to ensure both boys and girls have an equal shot at life,” he says, adding that resocialisation is also important where gendered expectations are deconstructed and decentred.

At the household level, notes Mare, most of the socialisation is done by parents and guardians.

“Accordingly, these people must ensure that they are not overburdening girls at the expense of boys,” he says.

Ekenia Chifamba, director of Shamwari yeMwanasikana, says a child – boy or girl, regardless of environment, social status or cultural background, deserves a better life and that is what we should help her or him achieve.

She adds that gender equality and empowerment should begin at our homes as well as community level simply by treating, as well as allocating same duties to both sexes.

“Communities should take a collective approach in nurturing both sexes. Boys should be taught from pre-school level to stand with their sisters and support them in doing household chores,” she says.

By instilling such values, notes Chifamba, we are catching them young and empowering them to be pillars of support for girls as well as giving them a sense of responsibility that they do not lose anything by standing for girls.

She adds: “In line with the Constitution, we should facilitate for open opportunities of embracing household chores and education equally among boys and girls.

“Further, we should prioritise infrastructure, technology, goods and services that address girl’s vulnerabilities and invest in childcare to ease uneven burdens.”

The United Nations Population Fund’s newly released report, “State of World Population 2016”, shows that protecting and promoting children’s rights is a concrete and measurable target that will contribute significantly to the achievement of gender equality while also accelerating efforts to achieve a safe, healthy and prosperous future for all.

Jena believes that to attain gender equality, disparities in the burden of domestic duties as well as negative gender patterns must be addressed before they become cemented in adulthood.

He also says supporting girls to stay in school and urging them to participate in sport and leisure activities can empower and lift them from the jaws of poverty.

To keep girls in school as well as propagate their rights, Rev Nyanhete says the treasury should provide adequate resources to the social services sector.

“Zimbabwe has ratified all key international and regional instruments which relate to the welfare and rights of children such as the United National Conventions on the Rights of the Child 1989, Minimum Age Convention (No. 138) 1973 and Worst Forms of Child Labour (No. 182) 1999.

“At continental level, the country ratified in 1995 the African Charter on the Rights and Welfare of Children. The mandate is now for the treasury to provide adequate resources to the social services sector so as to effectively protect and advance the rights of children,” he adds.

Angelbert Wamambo, an Ubuntu activist who finds fulfilment in humanitarian activism, also believes the welfare of girls will have a real impact on sustainable development.

“As long as the rights of children and girls are compromised and treated as a privilege, then freedom is an illusion,” he adds.

Frankly, empowering girls with the knowledge, skills and resources they need to reach their full potential, is not only good for them, but can drive socio-economic growth, promote peace and reduce poverty.

Lazarus Sauti

Zimbabwe is an agriculture-based nation and livestock sector is an integral component of it, where livestock production activities like feeding, watering, milking and house-level processing are performed by girls and women, a fact supported by Women and Land in Zimbabwe, which adds that women constitute 52 percent of the country’s population and provide more than 70 percent of agriculture production, food security and nutrition from household to national level.

Despite extensive involvement as well as contribution of these women, considerable gender inequalities still exist in access to technologies, information, credit, inputs and services due to disparities in ownership of productive assets such as land and livestock.

“Ownership, as well as control of land and livestock in Zimbabwe is still dominated by men thanks to prejudiced cultural practices,” says Mirirai Mutarara, a villager from Chisuko community in Chimanimani.

Gender activist, Anoziva Marindire, concurs: “It is sad to note that in this age of civilisation, women are still treated as second class citizens. They are not allowed to own livestock due to useless cultural practices and this is extremely constraining their fundamental human rights.”

Nevertheless, women in Chisuko community and other rural areas are defying cultural norms by taking a lead in livestock management, thanks to a project initiated by Participatory Ecological Land Use Management Association (PELUM) partners, Towards Sustainable Use of Resources Organisation (TSURO) Trust in cooperation with the Chikukwa Ecological Land Use Community Trust (CELUCT).

The purpose-in-life of the project, code-named ‘Holistic Land and Livestock Management’, is to use livestock to restore degraded land by harnessing the power of their hooves to break up hard ground for air and water to penetrate.

Breaking the soil crust eases runoff, and encourages water percolation that in turn recharges underground water.

Beneficiary, Junior Nezandoni, who had lost five cattle from stock theft before joining the project, applauds TSURO Trust and CELUCT, saying the programme strengthens rural women’s capacity to not to manage land, but to own as well as control livestock.

“Thanks to TSURO Trust and CELUCT for their product, my animals are now safe,” she says. “They are now in good condition since we always move our livestock to fresh grazing areas and leave enough time for the other areas to recover.”

Nezandoni also says she is paid for herding her cattle which are part of the Chisuko community herd, a move that is helping her to buy food, medicine as well as pay fees for her children.

Another beneficiary, Ester Matirekwe (73), says her life changed a lot since she adopted the Holistic Planned Grazing Scheme in 2012.

“Before joining the project, I faced my challenged, but that’s history now,” she says, adding that her cattle are healthy and herded collectively using a grazing plan designed by the community.

Stockowners, asserts Matirekwe, pay a monthly contribution of US$1 per animal and an additional US$4 per household.

Elizabeth Sunguro, who owns five head of cattle together with her husband, says the project also involves animal impacting which is done using livestock and a mobile kraal.

“Livestock are penned in a mobile kraal during the night on a portion of the field for about seven days before moved to another site,” she says.

Sunguro adds: “Because of livestock impacting, my fields are fertilised and more productive; I am harvesting enough food for consumption and selling. For instance, before impacting, I used to harvest around six X 50kgs of maize, but last year I managed to harvest 12 X 50kgs of maize.”

Gertrude Pswarayi of PELUM believes the Holistic Land and Livestock Management Programme is restoring ecosystem in rural areas since livestock help increase forage, improve soils, as well as recharge underground water bodies.

Zimbabwe, SA intensify road safety campaign

Lazarus Sauti

Road safety remains a major concern for most countries in the Southern African Development Community (SADC).

Every day, many people in the region are injured and/or killed in road traffic accidents, a fact supported by data from the African Development Bank (AfDB), which states that road traffic accidents constitute 25 percent of all injury-related deaths in Africa.

Data from the African Development Bank also vindicates the idea that roads are dangerous in much of Africa.

Kenya, for instance, loses at least 3 000 people every year due to road accidents; in Tanzania it is more than 3 600 while Nigeria’s numbers are up to 15 000 every year.

Reports also suggest that at least five people are killed per week between roads in Zimbabwe and South Africa, making roads more dangerous than battlefields in South Sudan, Somalia as well as the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC).

“It is said that we continue losing lives between roads in Zimbabwe and South Africa, where at least five people are killed per week,” says Proctor Utete of the Traffic Safety Council of Zimbabwe (TSCZ).

He also says the worst affected victims are those people travelling in public transport vehicles.

A large number of these accidents are attributed to potentially avoidable human errors such as reckless driving, speeding, inattentive driving as well as driving under the influence of alcohol, and driving when feeling tired.

“Most accidents along major highways in the region are a result of speeding, especially on straight stretches, overtaking errors, as well as non-compliance with road traffic regulations by most motorists,” asserts Utete, who is the TSCZ’s director for Marketing and Operations.

Sharing the same sentiments, Elphas Mameja of South Africa’s Cross Border Road Traffic Agency, adds that accidents along the N1, a national route road which links South Africa, Zimbabwe and other regional countries, are a result of overtaking errors, stray animals and ignorance.

Lack of respect, says Brian Gwezere (30) from Mufakose, is to blame.

“Motorists have no respect for pedestrians; at the same time, pedestrians have little respect for motorists,” he adds.

Zimbabwe and South Africa, however, embarked on a joint road safety awareness programme to reduce road accidents on major highways that link the two countries.

The campaign, coordinated by the Traffic Safety Council of Zimbabwe, together with its partners, the Zimbabwe Republic Police (ZRP) Traffic, Vehicle Inspectorate Department (VID), Nyaradzo Group, National Blood Services Zimbabwe (NBSZ), as well as the South Africa’s Cross-Border Road Traffic Agency (C-BRTA), and the South Africa’s Road Accident Fund (RAF), aims to raise awareness on road traffic accidents as well as provide information through educational messages on road safety.

“We opted to carry out the road safety campaign between Beitbridge and Musina where volumes of vehicles and human traffic are high,” says Utete, adding, “At least 170 000 people, 2 100 buses, 25 000 private cars and 15 000 trucks pass through Beitbridge and Musina every month.”

Mameja adds that saving lives is the purpose-in-life of the road safety programme and therefore urges regional countries to join hands and promote road safety – a cheap and effective insurance policy – in southern Africa.

“South Africa, Zimbabwe and neighbouring countries like Botswana, Malawi, Namibia and Zambia need to join hands in addressing issues of road accidents,” he says.

To solve the nagging problem of stray animals, as well as reduce road carnage in Beitbridge, a group of veterinarians in Zimbabwe also designed simple and inexpensive donkey reflectors, in which collars made of reflective yellow tape should help motorists to avoid hitting donkeys, especially at night.

Mel Hood of the Veterinarians for Animal Welfare Zimbabwe (VAWZ), a trust organisation dedicated to improving animal welfare in the country, estimates that there are at least 10 accidents involving donkeys within Beitbridge per month – and “probably way higher than that” on roads leading into the town.

Last year, 12 people were killed, while 44 others were injured when an MB Transport bus collided head-on with a haulage truck 45km outside Beitbridge town.

The police officer in charge of crime in Beitbridge District, Assistant Commissioner Bobby Murwira, said the bus hit a donkey and swerved to the side of an on-coming truck resulting in a head-on collision that killed 10 people on the spot.