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The life of a pregnant woman in Zimbabwe

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Friday, October 31st, 2008 by Fungisai Sithole

Because of the challenges and difficulties I am exposed to on a daily basis I wake up with pains all over my body. My body is mostly swollen and weak. My doctor tells me that my blood pressure levels have gone high. She tells me that I need to rest, but I cannot afford rest, I cannot afford to be sick. Not in this environment where I am subjected to economical, social, political and psychological frustrations. My bulging stomach has become representative of the problems I endure on a daily basis and an antithesis of the joys of womanhood and every growth of my tummy is an increase in my pain, frustrations and agony. I long for joys of motherhood but the environment I live in makes sure I can only long and dream of how it feels to be pregnant in an environment where I can afford the basics – a reality that remains an elusive quest.

Every day I wake up with worries and serious issues of concern regarding my pregnancy. I am employed but nothing seems to balance and work for me. I have to think of ways of raising money for my next appointment with my gynaecologist and for the hospital delivery charges and the doctor’s delivery fee. All these are charged in US Dollars. I have even attempted to apply to the Reserve Bank for the authority to withdraw cash in excess for the 50 000 daily limit but with no success as the whole financial system is corrupt and dysfunctional. Every day that passes brings an element of fear and anxiety as I still do not know when and how I will be able to raise the monies.

The doctor and the hospital fees are just one of the few elements I have got to worry about. Most of my clothes can’t fit anymore. I need new big clothes to accommodate my growing body and for my baby. The clothes are very expensive. I move around shops daily hoping to find something affordable but have no luck. I have money in the bank but can only withdraw fifty thousand dollars a day which only covers my one way transport costs to work. The cheapest clothes I can get are around 700 to 800 thousand dollars and I am expected to pay for them in cash. The shops do not accept cheques or transfers. The prices change on a daily basis and have no idea how I am expected to raise such figures a day. In Zimbabwe being pregnant has grown to be some form of punishment whose fine no one seems to know.

The sad part is dealing with my cravings. The environment in Zimbabwe just wipes away the joys of womanhood. Everything is a frustration for me. I can’t seem to find things I crave for and if I do the price just thwarts the excitement completely. It is an unfathomable task to afford a basic healthy diet something I need seriously in such circumstances. Sometimes my appetite just fades as eating the same vegetables and sadza everyday is a pain to me. I lead a miserable life and cannot wait for the day I will deliver and look at the new challenges.

With my mind dawdled with the challenges and frustrations of pregnancy, after work I get to a home without electricity and water. I now have to fetch water from a nearby school borehole and make fire as no one knows when the electricity will be back. I now view pregnancy as a burden and the burden is made worse by the miserable living conditions I am expected to endure every day. I dread the day my baby will be born in this environment and I shudder to think if he or she will be able to survive in this mire.

The cry of the Matebele

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Monday, October 20th, 2008 by Fungisai Sithole

I sing the song of the Matebele,
I sing the song of the tortured, butchered, marginalised and ostracized,
I sing the song of the hopeless,
It is the cry of the downtrodden, weary, and abused,
It is the voice of the Ndebele people.

My muffled voice wails from the deep dungeons of the Great Shangani River where my king’s story ends.
Deep in the dungeons, I cry for recognition and inclusion yet no one seems to take notice.
Every time I make an attempt to claim my position, to claim recognition and identity I am labelled a tribalist and a sell-out.
Every time this happens I am drawn back to self pity and self hatred.

My pain has been worsened by the Son of Bona
The Son of Bona tortured, brutalised and killed my clansmen simply because they were Ndebele.
Since then he never looked back.
He has made sure that my people are marginalised and peripherised.
Now he has made it worse by refusing to let go the reigns of leadership.
My cry is now so deep such that its tears can fill an ocean.
It is this deep because I see myself and my clansmen buried in poverty and swallowed by doldrums of history.

My cry has grown to be a cry of the people of Zimbabwe.
This is because the bitterness is no longer the Ndebele one only but a bitterness of everyone in Zimbabwe.
Son of Bona, you have destroyed our beautiful land, you have destroyed our pride as a nation.

I cry for the departure of the Son of Bona.
Son of Bona, Zimbabwe has had enough of you.
Son of the Bona, you cannot offer us anything that we can believe in.
Give others a chance to lead; Zimbabwe is for all of us.
Farewell, Son of Bona, Zimbabwe will be a better nation without you.

Zimbabwe cannot resolve its crisis through the deal

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Wednesday, October 8th, 2008 by Fungisai Sithole

Since the signing of the historic power sharing deal between Zanu PF and the two MDC formations, most Zimbabweans have been waiting for the unknown and uncertain like a pregnant woman. A pregnant woman is under constant worry about whether or not she will deliver a normal healthy baby. She is also concerned with the risks of miscarriage and still births both which are probable dangers during pregnancy.  Zimbabweans have grown to be anxious about whether the deal will work or not and most of them have been cautious of the deal.

When looking at the whole gestation period, that is the negotiation process, one realises that the period has been a painful, tiring and difficult one. The way the negotiation process has been progressing can be compared to a pregnant woman suffering serious complications due to the pregnancy. The complications surrounding the negotiations can be seen as a cue of the struggles and challenges people of Zimbabwe are likely to face as a result of the signed agreement. There have been a couple of deadlocks recently on the allocation of ministries and Mugabe is not yielding on the governors and nothing has been said on the allocation of ambassadorial posts.  There is still no common ground from the party leaders and one is left to wonder how the government of national unity is going to function. There are serious ideological differences between the two parties which makes it practically impossible to believe in the capacity of the GNU to deliver people of Zimbabwe from the mire that they are in. Tsvangirai who won the 2008 March harmonised elections is still Mugabe’s junior partner or a junior brother, he still reports to Mugabe and Mugabe does not necessarily report to anyone. He still enjoys a high degree of autonomy.

The pregnant Zimbabwe will give birth to a Down syndrome baby, a baby without the capability to function or do anything for itself. . All the expectations and hope will be replaced by disillusionment, misery and pain and the people of Zimbabwe will continue to live in dire straits.