International Women's Day – Nkayi Pregnant Women Sleep On The Floor

The clinic built during the Smith regime, is in a dilapidated state. The clinic has no running water, electricity and no working refrigerators hence vaccines are kept at Mbuma Mission Hospital. In addition the clinic has no doctors and is manned by nurses only.

Speaking to Radio VOP during the tour of the clinic, Sikhobokhobo Kraal Head, Job Gwayi said when expecting mothers develop complications they have to be ferried in a community borrowed scotch cart to the nearest Mbuma Mission Hospital.

“This clinic is operating below health standards, we have no running water, no vaccines for children and expecting mothers and this is a double burden for the nursing staff,” said Gwayi.

Gwayi added that the engine that used to pump water to the hospital is down and it was installed during the Smith regime. He blamed the Government of Zimbabwe for failing to drill a borehole to supply clean water to the clinic for the patients and nursing staff.

The Sister-In-Charge at Sikhobokhobo Clinic, Simayedwa Masuku, who refereed some of the questions on challenges faced at the clinic to the district nursing officer, admitted that they have a number of challenges as a clinic in a rural set up. She was disappointed that the government had abandoned the clinic,

“We are not able to immunise children as they come to the hospital as per health requirement, we only do so once a month and it is worse on expecting mothers. There is a time when one of the expecting mothers developed complications, l had to take her to Mbuma Hospital in a scotch cart while monitoring drip and it was at night, fortunate enough, she survived’” said Masuku.

Nkayi district is one of the underdeveloped areas in Matabeleland region with the road and communication networks, the worst in the country.

The Movement for Democratic Change led by Professor Welshman Ncube said in commemorating the World International Women’s Day (WIWD), whose theme this year is; “Empower Rural Women – End Hunger and Poverty,” it was eagerly looking forward to a time when Zimbabwe will have a 50/50 representation in Parliament.

MDC Women’s Assembly chairperson, Thandiwe Mlilo, told Radio VOP that her party takes time to recognise the contribution of Zimbabwean women in the struggle for freedom, from the days of the liberation struggle to the present fight for the democratisation of the state.

“We salute these women for their record sacrifice. They will always remain an inspiration to us. As a party we remain concerned that in all these struggles, the rural women remain the most adversely affected even during this course of transforming Zimbabwe to a just and fair nation.

“We are also worried that with the poor rains and looming threat of drought, vulnerable women and their children are in danger of starvation and malnutrition. Therefore, we demand that government put in place urgent drought mitigation measures and we are further concerned and disturbed by the lack of transparency, rampant corruption bedevilling the food aid distribution exercise in the country. Such practices continue to subject women to endless and unjustified toils in search of food,” said Mlilo

She added that they believe that fundamental changes can only be achieved through a constitution that recognises and commits to a women’s quota, particularly in the legislature where laws are made.

“We therefore demand on this Women’s Day that a quota of the seats in the Lower House be allocated to women. We also demand that a system of proportional representation be implemented in the Senate that ensures a 50/50 representation,” said Mlilo.

Meanwhile, Centre for Community Development in Zimbabwe (CCDZ) in a statement said young women and girls face challenges that are deeply rooted in systems of patriarchy and failing undemocratic political systems.

Young women bear the brunt of socio-economic hardships which make them vulnerable and open to abuse in society and they account for the larger percentage of school and college drop-outs, victims of political violence and rape and other various forms of abuse.

According to a Silveira House 2010 annual report, 69% of the child-headed families in Zimbabwe are headed by women and 40% of those are young women below the age of 35. Despite constituting 52% of the population, Zimbabwean women continue to have limited representation in various aspects of public life. 

CCDZ said that the power-sharing government between President Mugabe’s Zanu (PF) and two MDC formations led by Prime Minister Morgan Tsvangirai (MDC-T) and Professor Welshman Ncube (MDC) has not seen an improvement in terms of women representation in key decision-making process.

“The numbers of women in leadership positions in the judiciary, independent commissions, political party executives, local authorities and public service is not encouraging. During the negotiations for the power-sharing government, the negotiating teams were male-dominated,” said CCDZ.

CCDZ said it fully endorses the Committee on the Convention on the Elimination of Discrimination against Women (CEDAW) which has noted that, “Societies in which women are excluded formally or informally from public life cannot be described as fully democratic”.

“As CCDZ we reiterate our position on 50-50 representation at all levels of decision making and the protection of the 50-50 gender policy in the proposed new Zimbabwean Constitution. We firmly believe that women’s participation is essential not only for their empowerment, but for the advancement of society as a whole,” said CCDZ.

This year, the national launch of WIWD is scheduled to be held on March 16 in Binga at Siachiliba Kapenta Fishing Market.