News From Zimbabwe

Lupane Primary Schools: Feeding programme - September 2022

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Distribution of Seed Maize

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Latest on the Special Appeal

  • Bulletin No. 6. 6.4.2021
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  • Bulletin No. 3. 4.1.2021
  • Bulletin No. 2. 4.12.2020
  • Bulletin No. 1. 30.10.2020

  • Feeding Schemes Distribution Map

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    'Grace in a dry land'

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    Bringing smiles to the children of Lupane


    I bring you greetings from all the grateful hearts of the children and their teachers at Lupane schools. They asked me to convey their sincere gratitude to all that made it possible for the mealie meal and soya chunks to reach them. As it stands today more than 1500 children in the Lupane area of Matebeleland North still depend very much on the support provided by the ZVSF. Through this support, children are assured of at least one meal at school should all other meals fail in their homes which sometimes is the case. This support remains critical in the cognitive and overall development of the children as alluded to by their educators who continually affirm that these meals improve school attendance.


    Another school has been added to the list of schools that ZVSF is supporting, this school is 46km before Lupane. An application was made by Mlonyeni Primary school and the committee admitted the school into the schools feeding program. This brings the number of schools to 6. We made our first distribution Mlonyeni on Friday along with the other schools. The only challenge experienced is to do with the logistics as our regular transporter is limited to 4 tonnes. We ended up having to use the ZVSF vehicle to transport mealie meal to Mlonyeni Primary school separately.
    We managed to distribute a total of 4.8 tonnes of mealie meal and a total of 167kgs of soya chunks to 6 schools that are supported by the ZVSF, namely Mlonyeni Primary Lupane Primary, Ndlovu Primary, Mtshakabandana Primary, Masenyane Primary, and shabula Primary.

    I am excited to be a part of this great work that brings smiles to so many children in Lupane.

    Phanuel Moyo

    Download the report here

    Walvis Bay To Cairo Expedition

    Dr Chris Sworn, one of our Trustees was fortunate to make an exciting expedition from Walvis Bay to the Map of routeMediterranean coast of Egypt and then onto his home in Rutland last autumn. The route followed in Africa is shown here.

    He has prepared a fascinating travelogue of this epic journey which you are invited to read. (follow the links below) If this has aroused your interest in the peoples and cultures of the people of Africa and especially those of Zimbabwe (where the average personal income is only £300 per annum), we would invite you to consider making a donation to ZVSF through the Giveall2charity facility above.

    Chris would be happy to try to answer any questions you might have about the trip – please feel free to write to him at


    Cathy Buckle's Letters From Zimbabwe

    You can visit her website here, or read her most recent letter below:

    Time Goes Backwards In Zimbabwe

    Dear Family and Friends,

    Early in the morning when the clouds are smudged with pink, the dawn chorus fills Zimbabwe’s cool air: robins and flycatchers and the koo-ku-ing of Red-eyed Doves. As the sun lights the horizon a pair of mousebirds take up position at the top of a bush, long tails wet with dew, faces turned towards the sun waiting to catch the first warming rays. You have to just stop and soak in this brief illusion of normal whenever you can because it is soon replaced with what has again become the nightmare of life in Zimbabwe in January 2023. Electricity cuts which last 18-20 hours a day, food going rotten in hot fridges and freezers, water which only comes out of taps every two or three weeks, internet cables dug up and stolen in the darkness of power cuts leaving communications for hundreds of homes gone for days and weeks at a time. We thought we had left all this behind us with the exit of Robert Mugabe but now, a few months before our next elections, we are back exactly where we were. Time, it seems, goes backwards in Zimbabwe.

    Driving east on the main highway this week a fleeting glimpse of a guinea fowl hen and a line of seven or eight chicks running across the road and then disappearing into the lush green grass gave a moment to smile. Travelling is a good time to think about where we are going as country and this week Gift Munango, a visiting economics professor at the University of Zimbabwe said the 2023 economic outlook is gloomy. “The year 2023 will be very dire….Zimbabwe is entering a very volatile social and economic period… .” (Al Jazeera) These are words we aren’t surprised to hear at all as we are living in the reality of it. The exchange rate for US dollars is on the rise again, now at around 900 -950 Zimbabwe Dollars for one single US dollar. That’s a bizarre sentence to write, as is this one: a single loaf of bread is now close to one thousand dollars. How on earth do we survive this?

    Almost as bizarre as a thousand dollars for a loaf of bread is the news that came just before Christmas of 3000 government land reform beneficiaries facing eviction from farm land they were given in Chegutu by the government. The new farmers are apparently being evicted to make way for a platinum project. This same land was seized from commercial farmers in 2000 by the government and so we can only question what on earth land reform was all about in the first place as the vicious circle goes just goes round and round.

    Meanwhile on the other side of the country desperate times have resulted in desperate measures and thousands of ‘lithium hunters’ invaded Goromonzi North to dig for lithium. Lithium has become the new ‘gold rush’ in Zimbabwe with reports coming from many places where people are digging up lithium and selling the ore for US$10 a wheelbarrow load. Huge lithium mines are now operating from Bikita to Buhera, Mberegengwa to Manicaland and Mashonaland. Just before Christmas President Mnangagwa opened a new lithium mine in Buhera and soon after the government banned the export of raw lithium ore. Back in Goromonzi security forces were moved in to control lithium hunters and in one area villagers were banned from mining lithium and then the government gave the mining concessions to Chinese companies. (NewsDay)

    And further north, my feet firmly on plain old earth, I popped in to see a friend who had proudly planted rows of fruit trees and hundreds of tomato plants to help feed elderly people. Devastated I found all his hard work gone, walled off by someone who had claimed the land. He was bereft but was wearing plastic flip flops and shorts and was starting again.

    There is no charge for this Letter From Zimbabwe but if you would like to donate please visit my website. Until next time, thanks for reading this Letter From Zimbabwe now in its 23rd year, and my books about life in Zimbabwe, a country in waiting.

    love cathy

    7th January 2023.

    Updates Between Reports

    Zimbabwe’s Predicament

    February 2021

    According to the World Health Organisation, Zimbabwe reported 617 cases in the last seven days to 13 February (with 35,104 cumulatively). There were 82 deaths in that week and 1398 cumulatively. But these figures are likely to be gross underestimates as the country has limited testing facilities and hopelessly inadequate critical care capacity – what is the point in going to hospital if you know that they can’t help you for lack of resources?

    The Government have put the country under a strictly enforced curfew (from 8pm to 6am) – which, according to the UK’s FCDO, is of indefinite length. Four cabinet ministers who died of Covid-19 in recent months were said by Nick Mangwana, permanent secretary in the Ministry of Information, to have been ‘eliminated’ by medical practitioners – but he was forced to withdraw his comment after he received a barrage of criticism from the profession.


    The ZimVAC 2020 Report says that 1.45% of Zimbabwe’s children under the age of 5 are suffering from acute malnutrition (with only one child in 50 receiving the minimum acceptable diet necessary for growth and development). The situation is worst in Matabeleland where over 38,000 children are in this category.

    Most schools have been closed since March 2020 with many schoolteachers being on strike since October 2020 because of their pay and conditions. Some parents are resorting to sending their children to home schools as there is no indication from the government as to when the schools will reopen.


    The 2020/21 rainy season started well in November 2020 with some good rainfall in Matabeleland, but then there were a number of dry weeks before widespread and heavy rains returned in mid-January. The water supply situation is now much better than a year ago with many dams full. In some places, the rainfall has damaged the crops, in others it has underwritten the prospects of good yields.


    The staple food of Zimbabwe is mealie meal. The usual pattern is for the maize seeds to be sewn in October, November (and, sometimes, December) depending upon when the rains arrive, and then for the harvest to be brought in during April and May.

    The mealie harvest in 2020 was only around 900,000 tonnes across the entire country because of the El Nino effect. The country actually requires 1,800,000 tonnes. The only way to make up the shortfall in production is to import – in the past Zimbabwe has actually been able to export mealies but this has only been achieved once (in 2018) during the last 20 years. Sometimes, mealies have been brought in from Zambia, but in 2020 only South Africa has had surplus quantities available for export. In consequence, the price of mealies has risen to its highest level for five years, over US$400 per tonne.


    Before the Fast Track Land Resettlement Scheme commenced in 2000, agriculture made the largest contribution to the GDP, with mining coming second and tourism third, but today only mining is really sizeable. Corruption has seriously distorted the economy, with some estimates suggesting that as much as 50% of GDP bypasses the state coffers. Zimbabweans have lost faith in their currency having been robbed of their savings twice in the last 12 years. The first time was in 2008-9 when the rate of inflation climbed to the dizzying heights of 79,600,000,000% in November 2008; the second time was in 2019 when the government converted all US$ bank deposits belonging to individuals and businesses to Z$ on a one for one basis – and then allowed the Z$ to float freely with a result that the inflation rate rose to 837% in July 2020 (in January 2021 it was still 363%).


    Zanu-PF controls the executive and the parliament of the government, as it has done since 1980. They have resorted to splitting the opposition between the MDC Alliance under Nelson Chamisa and MDC-T under Douglas Mwanzora (who took over from Thokozani Khupe after a bitter struggle) and favouring the latter party as the ‘official’ opposition. MDC-T has few elected members of parliament and is therefore easier for Zanu-PF to ‘control’.


    The largest Christian movement in Zimbabwe is the Zion Christian Church which is an indigenous organisation. When you travel around Zimbabwe and neighbouring countries at a weekend you very often see groups of people enshrouded in white robes – their ‘services’ seem to last interminably. The founder, one Samuel Mutendi, had visions and spoke in tongues. But his descendent, Bishop Nehemiah Mutendi, supports educational and social programmes. Their substantial headquarters at Mbungo near Masvingo were opened by Mugabe in 2011.

    There are a number of proclamists of the prosperity gospel in Harare and Bulawayo, some of whom are very wealthy.

    Alongside these movements, the Anglican, Methodist, Baptist and Dutch Reform churches have good followings whilst the Roman Catholic Church is also well established (Robert Mugabe was a lifelong Catholic).

    There has been a recent move by the Zimbabwe Heads of Christian Denominations to persuade SADC to engage with the leaders of Zanu-PF, MDC Alliance and MDC-T because the challenges facing the country can, they say, only be resolved through a broad based national dialogue.

    May we all pray for the future of Zimbabwe and all its peoples.

    Chris Sworn

    Woman`s lament

    June 2019

    Can you imagine?

    You are Zimbabwean woman living with your husband and young children in a small home you have built with your own hands and lived in for over 20 years.

    You live on a piece of dry, deserted scrubland called the McDonald’s Bricks site a few miles east of the city of Bulawayo. You have no water, electricity or services but have learned to cope, living contentedly within a poor community.

    Though desperately poor, you and your husband have been able to grow vegetables and raise livestock on your little plot to buy the basic rations to feed the family and pay the children’s school fees.

    When not at school the children have played contentedly, and safely, close to your home.

    Your oldest daughter who is not married is expecting a baby …

    When suddenly

    The security forces arrive with batons, shouting orders that you are to leave your home at once.

    You remonstrate with the senior officer but to no effect. You are ordered to stand aside or take the consequences.

    As the women wail and children cower, terrified, bulldozers proceed to demolish your cherished home, and others, before your eyes.

    With your family you flee, not knowing where to go or what to do.

    Thank God you are befriended by a compassionate Pastor and small team of helpers. You are housed temporarily in a room provided at a nearby carpentry centre.

    But now your pregnant daughter is about to give birth. Even with help the only place you can find for the birth is a disused pigsty. It is rented for you and the place cleaned as best possible in the short time available.

    There your daughter gives birth to a baby girl. Sadly she is born with a clubfoot and serious neurological problems. Medical help is required but none is provided by the State.

    The family, confined now to one room of a rented property, has lost its only source of income. You are totally dependent on the generous compassion of your Christian friends, standing alongside in your desperate plight.

    The owner of the rented property refuses to allow you access to his water supply. Without school fees the children have been chased away from school. They have no space to play …

    Now read “A Woman’s Lament” written on her behalf by one of those who befriended her, Di Charsley.

    Apartheid style evictions in Zimbabwe

    11th January 2019

    News is breaking of the violent eviction of a whole community living close to Bulawayo. Yesterday (10th January) residents of what is known locally as the McDonald Bricks site, some 20 miles east of the city, found themselves faced with three truck loads of ZRP (Police) and a support unit which had come with orders to destroy their homes forthwith.

    Approximately 1,400 families live in this community. Some of these have been living here for a lifetime, though their number has been increased in recent years by others drawn to the site, which has no water or other amenities, by the opportunity to avoid municipal charges they cannot afford. Together they comprise an impoverished community which, without any help from the State, has been forced to fend for itself under the harshest conditions. Their very survival is a mark of their resilience.

    Shocked and surprised by the arrival of a large police contingent and the demand they should step aside to allow their cherished homes to be demolished, the residents responded angrily. An ugly scene was developing between, on the one hand, the police and their support unit, brandishing batons and guns, and on the other, the residents, some of whom seized spears and knobkerries to defend their property. At this point, eyewitnesses report, the Commander of the support unit addressed the people. He reminded them of what had happened in Harare following the disputed elections last year, when the army opened fire on unarmed civilians already in flight, killing six and wounding many others. He said the people should remember the army’s reputation and not stand in their way.

    Bulldozers then moved in and the brutal destruction of the dwellings followed, accompanied by the wailing of distraught women. Some of the structures were flimsy but others were more substantial. Many had been constructed of quality building material, including the occasional tiled roof here and there. The demolitions proceeded relentlessly, while the residents could only stand by, scarcely believing their eyes, as they watched their only security in life being trashed. Pastor Albert Chatindo, head of Christian Faith Fellowship Church, was one of those who witnessed the unbelievable cruelty. He has ministered to these people for over 20 years and, speaking to me the following day, he admitted he was still in shock.

    Not only is this a moral outrage but the legality of it is, to say the least, questionable. The ownership of the land on which the “McDonald Bricks” community lives is disputed. An attempt a few years ago by a would-be developer to establish ownership of the freehold of the site was rejected by the Court on the evidence of a surveyor called in to interpret the only available maps. That decision was appealed to the High Court, but the matter was not then resolved. As far as the residents were concerned, pending any further application to the Courts, they were entitled to remain in occupation of their properties.

    The residents were not even permitted to remove their belongings. This the police did in their own fashion, later dumping items seized from the dwellings along the Old Gwanda Road. No compensation was offered to those evicted, nor any assistance with relocation.

    The distraught evictees have no reserves of food or cash for transport. A few have been offered temporary lodging by Christian friends but most are now sleeping in the open. Without shelter, food or the most basic facilities, all – and particularly little children and the frail elderly – must be considered at great risk.

    The exercise of such brute power in the name of the State against poor, defenceless citizens must surely invite comparison with some of the worst atrocities committed by the Apartheid regime against some of the long-settled communities in South Africa that were perceived to stand in the way of that regime’s racist ideology.

    Graham Shaw

    And the aftermath...

    25th January 2019

    Report from Pastor Albert Chatindo to his prayer partner team

    We greet you all in the name of our Lord Jesus Christ!

    On Wednesday, 9 January I received an SOS call from the community at MacDonald Bricks saying that the Messenger of Court had dropped an eviction notice and that they were going to start destroying homes the next day. The next day the Messenger of Court with the police force started removing property and destroying homes. Immediately I went to witness what was happening. I spoke to the Messenger of Court and asked for a copy of the eviction notice but he said he had handed out all he had. I asked what had happened, as there was still a high court appeal from 2015 when the first eviction notice was challenged. His response was harsh: This time it is non-negotiable, there is nothing you can do like you did last time Chatindo.

    By early morning there were two bulldozers there and they were already knocking down homes and fences and pens. The community gathered and were very upset. They were shouting at the police and the Messenger of Court and three trucks of armed Support Unit was called in. At that point I was very angry. I asked the headman to go to a lawyer to see what could be done but the speed at which these guys were acting did not give a chance to halt it through the courts. I felt helpless. This time the destruction was total; they made sure there was nothing left. One woman was so distraught she rushed to her house as it was being pulled down so the bricks would fall on her, but the police pulled her away.

    In 2015 when the similar eviction took place it was stopped when it was taken to court and the judge ruled in favour of the community. It was established that McDonald Bricks did not own this property. However, McDonald Bricks appealed and there is still a high court ruling to come. The same Messenger of Court was fined for cruelty to animals by the SPCA after the 2015 thwarted eviction, when 2000 chickens and some puppies were put in sacks and suffocated as a result. This time he made sure the SPCA was there to monitor the process.

    Their movable property was thrown into hired trucks (by McDonald’s?) and left on the side of the main Johannesburg road. At this time the headman came back with news that there was no hope of stopping the eviction. He was told that the local Zanu (PF) politicians had instructed the court not to carry out these evictions until after the elections. During campaigning Obert Mpofu and his accomplices had promised these people that no one would be evicted but would be given 99-year leases.

    On Friday, 11 January some funds had come in as a result of appeals and we were able to start moving vulnerable people to temporary shelters. By this time families had been out in the open for over 24 hours and had not eaten. Some women were screaming and spinning around in circles in despair, to the verge of insanity. Three of them have disappeared and we are still looking for them. On Saturday I was able to buy bread and distribute it and then donations of maize meal, e’Pap and vegetables came thorough.

    On Sunday a farmer I know was driving past and saw all the people on the side of the road. He offered his truck and driver so we could move more people. More donations came and there was enough US dollars to buy fuel.

    On Monday the stay-away started and I was relocating two families to Mazwi across town. From Mpopoma the police were there with dogs and horses, but they let us go through and controlled the crowd. Getting into Pumula there was a larger, thicker, crowd chanting. So I stopped the truck and walked towards to the crowd. The police there said I shouldn’t go through and then escorted me back to the truck. They were in fact withdrawing and calling for reinforcements. I was shown another route. But we came to another road block with burning tyres and they threatened to burn the truck, and us if we did not come out of the truck. I said to them, ‘Guys you have lost direction, are you fighting against us or against government?’ I explained that I was helping old women across town because their homes had been destroyed by the government. I said, ‘Are we together, or are you against us?’ Then the crowd leader said, ‘This man is talking sense,’ and we were allowed to go through. During this time I was sending prayer requests to my friends. There, if you are not courageous you die. We managed to get to our destination and eventually got back to town using dirt roads.

    It’s two weeks now since this all started and the Messenger of Court has been hunting down those who are still hiding in the bush and threatening them with arrest. As of today there are still 28 families on the side of the road.

    For a full week I was not able to deal with the situation, as the way the eviction was carried out was ruthless. I was crying out, ‘Why Lord?’ My vehicle was broken down and I did not know what to do. I got sick. Also I had no helpers. And then there were church members from the high density suburbs calling me, who had been beaten up in the stay away or could not get food. But the prayers from local churches and Christians in UK and Australia restored me and the Lord strengthened me. We have seen his mighty hand at work in amazing ways.

    We don’t know what follows next. Outwardly there is calm but inwardly there is pain, there is strife, there is a worry for the future. People are saying next time there will be more lawlessness and there is a fear that we could become another Rwanda. We really pray that the Almighty will intervene and enable us to find a peaceful solution.

    This report was filed just prior to the visit of ZVSF’s Chair of Trustees to Zimbabwe

    Journeying in hope

    12th September 2018

    In a few days I am flying to Zimbabwe on a three week working visit. I know that the mood in the country is sombre, following another stolen election and display of brutal violence on the streets by the army. But, emphatically, I do not share in the prevailing sense of pain-filled resignation about the prospects for the nation. The reason for my “hope against all the odds” is that I know our awesome, liberating God is still at work among his people.

    In my preparations for the visit this sense of God’s redeeming presence has been deepened.

    I have known God’s blessing in the amazing support and encouragement received by Christian friends here in the UK, who are sending me on my way with warm greetings, generous gifts and, I know, fervent prayers to and for their sisters and brothers in Zimbabwe and the ministry of ZVSF among them.

    I already feel the warmest of welcomes from dear friends in Bulawayo who are facilitating the visit, helping with practical arrangements and making themselves available to meet and walk with me for a while.

    And I know I will be returning with stories and powerful testimonies from that faith community to inspire and bless the saints here.

    So yes, I have a profound sense that “this is the Lord’s doing and it is marvelous in our eyes”. It is at the same time humbling and exhilarating to walk in his way, and that explains why I have made an otherwise rather odd choice of images to go with this posting.

    I have chosen an image from inside the Chapel at Cyrene Mission, just south of Bulawayo. It shows a section of the marvellous artwork of a former generation of students who, inspired by a Christian priest and artist, painted something of their faith on the walls of the Chapel. It speaks to me powerfully of the creativity and vast untapped potential of the people of Zimbabwe. Our liberating God is surely working with the saints to release this potential – and what a joy it is to see it!

    Graham Shaw

    This report was filed immediately following the return from Zimbabwe of the Chair of Trustees

    My findings in Zimbabwe

    October 2018

    I am just back from a three week visit to Zimbabwe during which I had the opportunity to travel to many sites in and around Bulawayo where our relief feeding programme is being carried out by our marvellous team of volunteers.

    I was able to observe first-hand the conditions in which people are now forced to eke out a miserable existence – from the so-called squatter camps at Killarney and MacDonald Bricks to the shack dwellers at Ngozi Mine surrounded by huge piles of the City’s refuse from which they collect bags of plastics for re-cycling, and on to the relative comfort of the absolutely basic (no water or electricity) small dwellings constructed at Mazwi with U.N. funds for some of the victims of earlier State purges of the poor.

    What a scandal it is that in nearly four decades since Independence the ZANU PF government has done precisely nothing for these, the poorest of the poor – and countless others like them across the land. Their only interventions have been to send in the military from time to time to destroy their dwellings and meagre possessions and chase them away.

    So yes, I, who have seen a good bit of this before, was both shocked and angered. Yet alongside these strong emotions I was also deeply moved by the heroic efforts of those who have always been there for the victims. Encouraged and inspired by their indomitable courage and perseverance in feeding the hungry and ministering to the deepest needs of communities driven close to despair. And though the signs of extreme social stress are all too clearly visible so too are the signs of a new hope borne out of this faithful, persevering ministry. In short I was humbled and felt incredibly privileged to be linked to this life-changing ministry through ZVSF. Compared to the sacrifice required of the front-line workers ours is the easy part in supporting that work prayerfully and with our gifts. Yet how blessed we are to have even a minor part in this partnership of grace.

    Long before I arrived in Zimbabwe any remaining hopes that the new President would bring meaningful change had disappeared. In the week or so before I departed I watched the fuel queues grow. I saw what can only be called the “virtual currency” on which most Zimbabweans have been forced to rely plunge in value and the price of basic foods spiral upwards. Shelves in the supermarkets were fast emptying and many store owners closing their doors, ostensibly for “stock-taking”, but more likely to re-price their goods. A re-run of the catastrophic crash of the economy of 2008/9, but this time happening more rapidly and with consequences few dare to predict.

    The people of Zimbabwe, already living on the edge, are facing yet another crisis. I know the faithful servants of God whom I met on the ground – and many like them – will not lose their nerve or fail those who depend upon them so heavily. Pray God we will not fail them either, or our partners in that front line work of the Kingdom.

    In His Service,

    Graham Shaw

    A word of thanks from St Peter's Prmary School

    Please use this link to make a donation through giveall2charity.