Pupils in Chiadzwa collapse of hunger – The Zimbabwean. 16/03/2016 by Clayton Masekesa
SCHOOL children at some schools in Chiadzwa have dropped out of school while others are collapsing during lessons due to prolonged hunger.
In an interview with The Zimbabwean yesterday, on the sidelines of a workshop on Establishment of Environmental Complaints Systems facilitated by Zimbabwe Environmental Law Association (ZELA) in partnership with Action Aid held at a local hotel, the School Development Committee chairperson for Betera Primary School Lovemore Mukwada said the situation has become dire and requested the government to quickly intervene.
“In most of the primary schools children have dropped out of school as a result of hunger. We have cases where some children are fainting during lessons as they would have spent days without having food. We had a recent case at Betera Primary School where we had a pupil who fainted as a result of hunger,” Mukwada explained.
“The problem is that the pupils will wake up in the morning as early as 6am going to school until 4pm meaning that they would have spent the whole day at school without eating anything. At their homes the parents are struggling to have food and the little that they have will be shared among them all meaning that there would be no extra food for those at school,” he added.
“Previously, the school children used to have some food from the diamond mining companies, but, some of them stopped. To make the matters worse they have been booted out of Chiadzwa meaning that there is nowhere else the schools will get the food to feed the pupils,” said Mukwada.
He said Mbada Diamonds and Marange Resources were the companies that were supplying some food to schools.
“We want to thank Marange Resources and Mbada Diamonds for their good gesture as we received food from our children from them. On many occasions they also paid school fees to the children. But, now there is nothing and we are now finding problems,” he said. “We are now appealing to the government to come and rescue the situation as hunger is now taking its toll on our school children,” he added.
Mukwada said the situation has also been exacerbated by the fact that the distribution of government food aid has been politicized as presumed MDC-T supporters were not receiving anything.
“It is a big challenge because the headmen who are responsible for distributing the food aid end up politicizing the programme. The headmen will give the food to those that are aligned to Zanu PF and the whole process becomes a very big problem to those that are perceived to be MDC-T supporters,” he said.
In response the Acting Mutare District Administrator Simon Sigauke appealed to the government to quickly intervene to avert disaster in Chiadzwa.
“Yes I know that the situation has become dire. We appreciate that the diamond mining companies used to supply the food to the schools, but, now we should now focus on how we should solve this matter,” he said. The government last month announced that that it will start providing meals to school pupils countrywide to shield them from hunger and to promote high nutritional levels, but, up to now the programme has not been rolled out.