Voices from Matabeleland
Despite Zimbabwe's political independence, it continues to face economic and social challenges to alleviate poverty. You and I can eat breakfast, lunch, dinner, and snacks throughout the day unlike Zimbabweans living with 95 percent unemployment according to Forbes Magazine.
Tigere by Pamenus Tuso
The newly elected Mangwe junior MP, Sarudzai Tigere, says the shortage of primary schools in her constituency is critical and has led to children either dropping out of school or being forced to walk long distances every day.
Tigere, a lower sixth student at Empandeni girls high school, was elected the junior MP for the constituency in June. She said she was very worried about the many children who were dropping out of school due to poverty and subjected to child labor in the form of daily rural household chores such as water and firewood fetching.
“School-going children, particularly those in primary schools, face numerous challenges in my constituency. Since I was elected, I have done an assessment of their needs and what is clear is that pupils are walking long distances. Children from less privileged homes are also dropping out of school because they cannot afford tuition fees “said the MP.
Tigere, 17, said she and the junior chief in the area, Nhlanhla Ncube, were planning to hold a series of fund-raising projects. The proceeds will go towards paying school fees and uniforms for the less privileged children in the constituency.
“We hope to involve our senior MPs in these projects. We will have a meeting of all the junior and senior MPs in the constituency so that we deliberate on how best to assist the children,” she said.
The junior parliamentarian also called for the establishment of child-friendly schools in the country.
“As children leaders, we are advocating for child-friendly learning centers where children are not subjected to corporal punishment. We also demand that education should be affordable to all the children” she said.
School children in most parts of Matabeleland provinces are performing dismally in school due to poverty, poor infrastructure, and inadequate learning facilities. Last year, about six schools in Gwanda, Matabeleland South, failed to record a single pass. Owing to grinding poverty, school children spend most of their time looking for food instead of going to school.
“He fondled my breasts and had sex with me.” It is a statement a 15 year old girl should not be making. But faced with growing hunger, from the moment of waking in the morning until laying down to sleep at night, Melody (not her real name) felt she had no other option but to give herself to a man more than four times her age.
“It started when I was 12,” says Melody. “I kept going to him because I was hungry. He fed me and helped with my school expenses. I was happy he paid because, as a family, we were not able to raise the funds.” Her family accepted the assistance from the man they considered a friend, not realizing the sacrifice Melody was making. “He threatened me if I told anyone what he was doing to me,” she whispers quietly.
A 16-year-old girl, living in Gwanda became pregnant at 14. Now has two children which means she will be unable to attend high school. Reducing her chances to a better life due to lack of education She is likely to stay in the rural area. Unlikely to attend professional skills; trapped in poverty. By offering the youth of Mathebland financial assistance, it will minimize vulnerability to teen pregnancy that effects that chances of getting out of poverty.