Stories written by Ignatius Banda

ZIMBABWE: Microcredit Aggravates ‘January Disease’

Thomas Dlakama has experienced what he calls "January disease" all his working life. This phenomenon afflicts millions in Zimbabwe, and its symptoms include an empty purse, rising blood pressure among irascible breadwinners, and a general inexplicable hope of manna from heaven.

More than 70 percent of Africans – the majority of whom are women –rely on farming for survival.  Credit: Ignatius Banda/IPS

CLIMATE CHANGE: Waiting for the “Heavens to Weep”

Duduzile Sibanda takes a break from preparing her long stretch of land for her maize crop in rural Mberengwa, in Zimbabwe’s Midlands province. She wipes her brow under the scorching sun and looks upwards. The sparse clouds are a cause of concern as she studies the sky and wonders aloud when the "heavens will weep."

Rural women find themselves at the centre of efforts by mobile phone service providers to introduce mobile phone money transfers in Zimbabwe. Credit: Ignatius Banda/IPS

ZIMBABWE: Rural Women Banking By Mobile Phone

Collecting the monthly subscriptions for her co-operative has always been a headache for Thelma Nare, 41. This is because Nare lives in Tshitshi, Plumtree in rural Zimbabwe, about 60 kilometres away from the humdrum of the nearest town centre where banks are located.

ZIMBABWE: Forcing Parents to Top Up Teachers’ Salaries Cannot Continue

As concerns deepen about the quality of education in Zimbabwe, parents can expect an indefinite extension of subsidising teacher salaries as the cash- strapped government struggles to meet the bloated civil service wage bill.

High import and customs tariffs have become a huge stumbling block for second-hand clothes traders.  Credit: Ignatius Banda/IPS

ZIMBABWE: Bleak Future for Second-Hand Clothes Traders

It is becoming increasingly difficult for second-hand clothes traders like Susanne Jabavu to do business because of rising costs to import bales of clothing from neighbouring countries.

ZIMBABWE: Mending the City’s Water Leaks

Thomas Njini is used to working with burst sewers and water pipes. It is a daily experience for him to respond to calls where he has to shovel human waste to clear blocked sewers. It is a job he continues to do with unenviable dedication in this city of two million people.

ZIMBABWE: Microcredit Operators Target Salaried Workers

Johnson Gama knows life on the poverty line only too well. A qualified teacher, Gama has in the last few years been unable to survive on his salary despite working in a profession which two decades ago was considered middleclass in Zimbabwe.

ZIMBABWE: Beating the Housing Blues

Every month Cynthia Dube and the nine other women from her co-operative make sure they sell enough clothes and appliances to put 100 dollars each in a joint savings. When they have enough money, they will buy each member a plot of land. And eventually they will help each other build their own homes.

ZIMBABWE: Rural Women Voting With Their Feet

At independence in 1980, Loyce Tshuma (55), a villager in rural Tsholotsho in Matebeleland North, was a loyal believer in politics as a powerful vehicle to change and better lives. Since then she never missed an opportunity to cast her vote.

ZIMBABWE: Cross-Border Traders Don’t Trust Banks With Their Money

A newly available electronic banking service has received a lukewarm reception from cross-border traders in Zimbabwe’s second largest city Bulawayo, despite it alleviating the need to move around with large sums of cash.

ZIMBABWE: Fears for Next Generation of Women Leaders

Zimbabwe's veteran women politicians fear there are no younger women coming up through the ranks to replace them. Measures to improve women's representation have achieved little and young women are absent from the traditional entry points into politics.

Zimbabwe’s Braying Cavalry in Campaign for Literacy

Across Zimbabwe, economic and political crisis has forced students to do without books, classroom furniture, teachers - the basics of a conducive learning environment. These learners cannot go to libraries, so the libraries have gone to them.

ZIMBABWE: Backlash Against Women in Politics

"Women in Zimbabwe are largely seen as a huge demographic to be exploited by politicians who seek our support," says Ntombikayise Mswela. "But when we take to the streets to demand respect and our rights from the same government we are thrown into prison.

Waiting for TB treatment. Credit:  Gary Hampton/World Lung Foundation

ZIMBABWE: Fighting Past Fear to Treat TB

In the dusty streets of Bulawayo’s densely populated townships, Susan Nkiwane is making house calls today. She is one of a group of twelve women who form a fragile web of support for TB sufferers in her community.

Zimbabweans Turn to Indigenous Medicine

Zimbabwe's government recently announced that the country had run out of the critical painkiller morphine. It was just the latest development in a debilitating health care crisis that has seen hospitals turn away patients because of drug shortages.

South African retailer OK Supermarkets' store in Bulawayo, Zimbabwe: South African imports dominate shop shelves in neighbouring Zimbabwe. Credit: Ignatius Banda/IPS

TRADE: South African Imports Filling Zimbabwean Shop Shelves

When the government of national unity (GNU) was formed two years ago, Zimbabweans expected that the days of shop shelves being filled with imported consumer goods would soon be over.

ZIMBABWE: Filtering Fact From Fiction About D.I.Y. Water Treatment

The southern Zimbabwean city of Bulawayo has not been spared the heavy rains that have fallen across Southern Africa; the water is welcome in this semi-arid part of the country, but the coming of the rainy season has provoked fresh memories of the 2008 cholera epidemic.

Zambezi fish set out to dry. Credit:  Elizabeth Clear/Flickr

ZIMBABWE: Protecting the Zambezi’s Kapenta Fish

"The fish are disappearing." The words and the world-weary gaze could belong to a fisherman from almost anywhere, as stocks come under pressure due to over-exploitation all over the world.

ZIMBABWE: In the Eye of the HIV/Aids Storm

Teenage commercial sex workers are finding themselves at the centre of the HIV/AIDS storm amid concerns of widespread lack of condom use and a spike in the number of infections among this demographic, despite the country’s continuing HIV/AIDS campaigns, which health authorities say has seen a drop in prevalence in the past few years.

 Water Harvesting Back in Fashion Credit: comms.wikimedia.org

WATER: Early Rains Rekindle Interest in Rainwater Harvesting

In Thembekie Gwebu’s yard under the roof leaves stands a curious giant green plastic container with a plastic pipe connected to the gutter. She has been asked a number of times by curious visitors and passers-by what the contraption is, and she happily explains.

LABOUR-ZIMBABWE: Redundancy Discrimination Fears for Women

Unskilled female workers employed in Zimbabwe’s struggling textile, security and other industries say they are increasingly finding themselves at the front of the redundancy line in cases that the affected women say reek of gender discrimination.

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