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Trustee’s Visit to Bulawayo: March 2022 – please see Report below under “News from Zimbabwe
Lupane Primary Schools: Report on Feeding Programme – May 2022
Download this report here
Distribution of Seed Maize
Download this distribution report here
Latest on the Special Appeal
News From Zimbabwe
- “Reclaiming the Sanctity of Life”: a Pastoral Statement from the Zimbabwe Council of Churches” - LATEST
- Summary Report of a Trustee’s Visit to Bulawayo in March 2022
- ZCBC statement - 14 August 2020 - LATEST
- Situation Report and Update (22.6.2020)
- Zimbabwe under Covid-19 - 17.04.2020
- Zimbabwe Council of Churches issues a dire warning
- Food Security Outlook: October 2019
- Zimbabwe food security outlook update - September 2018
- Zimbabwe: Hope deferred - Hope abandoned?
- Pastoral Letter 21-01-11
- The Archbishop of Canterbury's sermon to the Anglicans in Zimbabwe 9-10-11
- Famine Early Warning Systems Network: Zimbabwe: Food Security Outlook January 2014
- ZIMBABWE ALERT – RAID ON THE POOR - August 2015
- Statement by Zimbabwe Heads of Christian Denominations
- UN Food Security Brief on Zimbabwe: January 2016
- Methodist Church in Zimbabwe condemns police brutality
- Famine Early Warning Systems Network Report - October 2016
Feeding Schemes Distribution Map
Download a full quality PDF version of the map here.
'Grace in a dry land'
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.DISTRIBUTION
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.
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 email@example.com.
- Part 1 - Walvis Bay to Arusha (Tanzania)
- Part 2 - Nairobi (Kenya) to Cairo
- Addendum – Iskenderun to Preston (Rutland)
Cathy Buckle's Letters From Zimbabwe
You can visit her website here, or read her most recent letter below:
Seizing maize and deja vu
Dear Family and Friends,
Winter snuck in the back door in an icy blast this week in my home town. It came after two months of bizarre weather: pounding, flooding rain when it should have been bone dry, then cold and misty, then hot again and now a biting wind, four degrees at night, struggling up to the mid teens in the day. Wooly hats, Zimbabwe’s unofficial national dress whether its four degrees or forty, coats, boots, doubled up blankets and windows closed, we are preparing for the coldest two months of the year. Zipping my jacket up to my chin and with head down against the wind I headed into the supermarket, promising a shivering old man who asked for help that I’d bring him a loaf of bread on the way out.
The shocks await us every time we go in the supermarkets with inflation officially stated at 131% but realistically at 256% according to Johns Hopkins economist Steve Hanke who’s been watching Zimbabwe’s economy for a very long time. Zimbabwe’s own respected economist, Tony Hawkins said this week he agreed with Steve Hanke and that “Zimbabwe now has the highest inflation rate in the world.” The deeper we go into the mire however the more the figures become almost irrelevant. Almost everything going into the supermarket trolley now is at least Z$500, even a loaf of bread is just under that price. It’s all so absurd when the highest bank note here is Z$100 and you need five of them just to buy a loaf of bread. As usual I head to the maize meal shelf, Zimbabwe’s staple food, and for the third week in a row, there’s still none to buy, not a single bag. A week ago the GMB (Grain Marketing Board), which controls all the grain in the country, said they had indefinitely suspended grain allocations to millers for unclear reasons. Its murky to say the least as to why allocations were stopped, one top milling company executive said: “I can confirm the allocations were stopped and we don’t really know why.” Another miller said: “We have gone for more than six weeks without an allocation.” (NewsDay)
Farmers can only sell their maize to the GMB and are paid at a ratio of 70% in Zimbabwe dollars (which devalue almost by the day) and 30% in US dollars. In obvious panic the Secretary for Lands and Agriculture said he had ordered a “grain busting operation” to seize stocks of maize farmers were holding back due to low prices. According to the law no one can ‘buy or acquire’ maize from any farmer other than through the GMB. The Secretary for Lands said they would even intercept grain being moved from one area to another. “Not more than 5 x 50 kg bags maize can be moved without any authorized person or police officer having to confiscate the maize,” the legislation says. How well we all remember police and ‘other’ road blocks checking our vehicles and ordering people out of buses to check if we were hiding our own maize to take to our own families back in 2007. Every day now is a case of déjà vu in Zimbabwe and I headed back out into the wind and cold and gave the old man a loaf of bread. Food for a day, it’s all any of us can do.
Later on I met a man who put the crisis into perspective when he told me he usually harvests a ton of maize but “this season we only got 2 buckets,” (40kg) and it was drying on the roof of his house. A picture speaks a thousand words, see it here: http://cathybuckle.co.zw/
10 December 2021.
Updates Between Reports
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.Children
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.Weather
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.Crops
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$400 per tonne.Economy
Before the Fast Track Land Resettlement Scheme commenced in 2000, agriculture made the largest contribution to the GDP, with mining coming second and tourism third, but today only mining is really sizeable. Corruption has seriously distorted the economy, with some estimates suggesting that as much as 50% of GDP bypasses the state coffers. Zimbabweans have lost faith in their currency having been robbed of their savings twice in the last 12 years. The first time was in 2008-9 when the rate of inflation climbed to the dizzying heights of 79,600,000,000% in November 2008; the second time was in 2019 when the government converted all US$ 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%).Politics
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’.Churches
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.
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 …
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.
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!
This report was filed immediately following the return from Zimbabwe of the Chair of Trustees
My findings in ZimbabweOctober 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,
- NEWS ALERT. Famine Early Warning Systems Network    *LATEST
- 2017 November - Mugabe's Resignation
- 2016 December - Zimbabwe In Meltdown
A word of thanks from St Peter's Prmary School
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