A rumour about Zimbabweans allegedly selling their toes because of poverty has gone viral in Nigeria and a number of other African countries. People are said to get as much as US$40,000 for a big toe, US$25,000 for a middle one and US$10,00 for a small toe.
The BBC says a tongue-in-cheek Zimbabwean blog suggested the trade was happening at the Ximex shopping mall in Harare. Zimbabwean tabloid H-Metro posted an interview with black market currency traders at the mall who said the issue had been blown out of proportion after a few of them shared it as a joke. While Zimbabweans are mostly amused by the story it has gained a toehold in Nigeria, particularly. There has already been an upsurge there in money rituals – a belief that using body parts can bring riches. In January three people were arrested in Nigeria for killing a teenage girl for ritual purposes (see: https://www.bbc.co.uk/news/world-africa-61650455).
The president of the Zimbabwe National Traditional Healers’ Association, George Kandiero, said they were disturbed by reports of people selling toes for ritual purposes. He said it tarnished the image of traditional practitioners, adding ‘if you hear of the amounts being spoken about, I don’t think there’s a single traditional healer to pay for toes at that amount.’
The police in Zimbabwe have taken the matter seriously. National Police spokesman Paul Nyathi said they were investigating possible trafficking in human body parts as this was illegal in Zimbabwe. Anybody found soliciting, selling or buying human body parts would be arrested (see: https://bulawayo24.com/index-id-news-sc-national-byo-219696.html)
We in the diaspora comb the media for any news of Zimbabwe. Most of it is negative. This week we came across a blog post by Michelle Gavin on the website of the Council of Foreign Relations, an American thinktank, in which she says conditions in Zimbabwe continue to go from bad to worse. ‘Triple digit inflation shows no signs of slowing. Over half of the country lives in poverty. Its corrupt government lurches from disinterest in the population’s pain to rosy projections for growth based on pure fantasy to clumsy interventions like the recent short-lived edict banning banks from lending.
‘Politically, the merger of the ruling party and senior military leadership has long been complete, and they have become inextricable from the state itself. But because Zimbabweans, in the form of independent journalists, opposition politicians, and local activists, refuse to give up on their efforts to hold government accountable for its actions, state-sponsored campaigns of repression and political violence continue. In an effort to give the intimidation a veneer of legality, the country’s leaders are now working to dismantle civil society, pursuing draconian legislation aimed at private, voluntary organizations (PVOs) that would, in the words of a network of mostly African human rights defenders, provide government with “unrestricted power to deregister, target, and harass PVOs deemed critical of the government.’
The article concludes that ‘there will be nothing remotely resembling a level playing field as the 2023 elections draw near.’ (See: https://www.cfr.org/blog/trouble-ahead-zimbabwe.)
The opposition leader Nelson Chamisa is more optimistic, saying the army is fed up with President Mnangagwa and is ready to ditch him in next year’s elections. Chamisa said: ‘Everywhere we are going in the country, people are speaking about change. Change is on the horizon and the country is ready for change. Civil servants are saying I must take the reins of power. The students, ordinary citizens, and the army are saying the same.’ (See: https://bulawayo24.com/index-id-news-sc-local-byo-219710.html.)
- Zimbabwean musician Thomas Mapfumo has accepted an offer of land by Chief Livhuwani Matsila of Matsila village in Limpopo. Mapfumo is regarded as a hero of the liberation struggle and went on to oppose the Zanu PF government (see: https://www.sabcnews.com/sabcnews/zimbabwean-musician-mapfumo-to-relocate-to-sa/).
- It was good to be joined by Deborah Jandles of Twoco Woja, Women of Justice Arise. They are campaigning for opposition activist More Blessing Ali who has been missing since 24th May when she was bundled into a car by a Zanu PF mob and for Marry Chiwenga, the wife of Vice-President Constantine Chiwenga, who has been abused by her husband during their divorce case.
- The Vigil met outside the Embassy today. For the moment we are meeting on the 1st and 3rd Saturdays of the month. There will be a virtual Vigil on the other Saturdays. Thanks to those who came today: Charles Mararirakwenda, Deborah Jandles, Ephraim Tapa, Henry Makovere, Jonathan Kariwo, Joyce Mbairatsunga, Kevin Wheeldon, Mary Muteyerwa and Rose Benton. Photos: https://www.flickr.com/photos/zimbabwevigil/albums/72177720299542037.
- For Vigil pictures check: http://www.flickr.com/photos/zimbabwevigil/. Please note: Vigil photos can only be downloaded from our Flickr website.
Events and Notices:
- ROHR Fundraising Walk for a Free, Fair and Credible Election in Zimbabwe. Saturday 18th June. ROHR UK chapter will embark on a 13-mile sponsored walk, starting at Leytonstone at 9 am and ending at the Vigil, to raise funds for voter registration mobilisation and education to ensure all eligible citizens exercise their right to vote without fear or manipulation.
- Next Vigil meeting outside the Zimbabwe Embassy. Saturday 18th June from 2 – 5 pm. We will continue meeting on the first and third Saturdays of every month. On other Saturdays we will continue the virtual Vigil.
- Next ROHR Meeting. Saturday 2nd July at 11 am.
- The Restoration of Human Rights in Zimbabwe (ROHR) is the Vigil’s partner organisation based in Zimbabwe. ROHR grew out of the need for the Vigil to have an organisation on the ground in Zimbabwe which reflected the Vigil’s mission statement in a practical way. ROHR in the UK actively fundraises through membership subscriptions, events, sales etc to support the activities of ROHR in Zimbabwe. Please note that the official website of ROHR Zimbabwe is http://www.rohrzimbabwe.org/. Any other website claiming to be the official website of ROHR in no way represents us.
- The Vigil’s book ‘Zimbabwe Emergency’ is based on our weekly diaries. It records how events in Zimbabwe have unfolded as seen by the diaspora in the UK. It chronicles the economic disintegration, violence, growing oppression and political manoeuvring – and the tragic human cost involved. It is available at the Vigil. All proceeds go to the Vigil and our sister organisation the Restoration of Human Rights in Zimbabwe’s work in Zimbabwe. The book is also available from Amazon.
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