Thirty people joined the Vigil at the Embassy after a 15-mile walk to raise funds for the Zimbabwe Peace Actors’ Platform (ZimPAP) which seeks to train 100,000 civilian peacekeepers for next year’s elections.
The thirty included Margaret Munenge’s toddler Ethan (who made his mother walk twice the distance) but excluded the twins expected by heavily pregnant Etines Kapiya, who also completed the walk.
Waving posters, they were singing as they came to join us down the Strand, conveniently closed to traffic by demonstrators complaining about financial ‘austerity’ in the UK.
Ephraim Tapa, President of the Restoration of Human Rights in Zimbabwe, wondered ruefully whether the British protesters knew what austerity really was. He awarded certificates to those who completed the walk, which was organised by ROHR to help finance a joint civil society initiative to educate rural people on their constitutional rights and overcome fear and intimidation.
A graphic insight into Zimbabwean-style ‘austerity’ in the rural areas comes from a pastor in the Bulawayo area who is supported by members of the Vigil. Asked in an interview about the mood of the people, he said, ‘They are sad, very depressed. The only time they are happy is when they receive food from us.’
The pastor went on: ‘There is a lot of witchcraft going on around Zim as well as in the church. The reason is because of suffering due to the economy collapsing. Most businesses have closed down and people can’t get jobs so can’t get money to pay their bills, or buy food, or school fees, or get treated for their illnesses. There is a high level of corruption and as a result people seek the services of false prophets and nyangas.
‘There is a group of intercessors at Nkulumane. The pastor’s son (6) was stolen. The intercessors began to pray and alerted us to pray when the child had been missing for two days. The person who had kidnapped the child also stole three other children. On the third day he was travelling in his car, on the way to South Africa, when it broke down. He asked for help from three male passers-by and one of them (related to the pastor) recognized the missing child. They asked where the boy was going to and they became aggressive with the driver and even threatened to kill him. The driver pleaded with them to allow him to phone his boss in South Africa and the South African offered them USD20 000 if they promised not to report the case. However the men phoned the police, who came out and took the man in and towed the car to the police station. The number of the South African was also given to the police. The boys were all returned safely to their families. Sadly we cannot be sure the police will take action as they are greedy for money.
‘In the newspaper it was reported that a girl (15) was found in a state of decomposition with body parts missing. Four families came to claim the body hoping it was their child. Also in many churches leaders are focusing on miracles and healing for which the congregation have to pay.’
The pastor added: ‘Jealousy is widespread among families because they cannot meet their basic needs, especially if one part of the family has children supporting them from outside the country. Because the needs are so great people are just looking out for themselves and neglecting other relatives. Married couples are breaking up bitterly and often the children are deserted. I have many times tried to bring some new street kids back to the family but often the parents don’t even want them. The children say they are happier to be away from the relatives.
‘Very old people are also deserted by the family members who leave and never send anything for them. I have many grandparents now.
‘Another thing that is difficult for me is children dying from malnutrition; up to five a month. At the cemetery in Luveve the ground is spreading with children’s graves. According to traditional beliefs if a child is less than three months the women are expected to bury the child, especially very elderly women. This is very difficult to watch. These things keep us on our knees.’
Source: The Zimbabwean