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Breaking the stigma: Zimbabwe’s teenage mothers speak out (Part 2) – NewsDay

Since birth, Ruvimbo has lived with her parents in their one-room lodgings in Chiremba area, which is quite normal in her area. She is the only child.

AFTER being forced out of the family house in January this year when she fell pregnant and was coerced into marriage by her parents, Ruvimbo (14) found herself leading a life of misery alone in a rented room in the “Makomboni” area of Epworth, south-east of Harare.

“This happened in the first month of my Grade 7 at Makomo Primary School in the same area,” she said, with the pregnancy now showing.

Since birth, Ruvimbo has lived with her parents in their one-room lodgings in Chiremba area, which is quite normal in her area. She is the only child.

Ruvimbo says her life went into disarray when she fell pregnant after sleeping with a boy almost her age.

She was not prepared for the next stage of her life.

Unbeknown to her, the pregnancy would result in her parents forcing her out of the house.

Her equally young boyfriend, who was under the custody of his parents, refused to own up. His parents also refused to take responsibility for their son’s actions insisting that he was too young to be a father.

Ruvimbo was broken. She found herself alone with no one to take care of her.

“Ever since my parents forced me out of the house, I have been struggling to survive,” she says.

“On many occasions, I would sleep on an empty stomach. It pains me because I know my parents are there, but they are not willing to help me.”

Her pregnancy is almost due.

This is the second part of a three-part series: Breaking the stigma: Zimbabwe’s teenage mothers speak out about family abandonment and societal challenges; in which teen mothers in Zimbabwe, who has fallen victim to societal norms and beliefs share their stories.

Victims of societal norms and values

In African society, falling pregnant under the age of 18 is considered a “taboo“ and often see young girls being stigmatised by society. Girls are considered to be at fault irrespective of whether the pregnancy was a mistake or a result of abuse.

In an interview, Compass Zimbabwe project lead (Pangea Zimbabwe Aids Trust (PZAT), Munyaradzi Chimwara said Zimbabwe’s cultural beliefs and societal norms forced girls to elope once they fall pregnant. This leaves them vulnerable and exposed to poor living conditions, which can lead to their further exploitation due to a lack of protection from their parents and the law.

“The biggest challenge in this country is that we have gone into a season of sexual debut among young people, and as parents we are in denial to accept the reality. That is why as Compass, we have been pushing for a Bill in Parliament that allows children below the age of 18 to have access to Sexual Reproductive Health products (SRHp),” he said.

“Preventing young girls from having access to SRHp can, one, create a population of young mothers; (two), create a burden of illegal abortions as well as create a burden for parents to take care of their children and grandchildren at the same time.”

Although every child has rights as set out in section 81 of Zimbabwe’s Constitution, amendment of section 2 of Chapter 5:06 (q), a child who is pregnant (below 18 years) needs care.

However, due to poor implementation of the law, many young mothers have fallen victim to abandonment by care-givers and the government as well.

Armed with such evidence, PZAT through “Shaping Adolescents and Young Adults in Zimbabwe” (SHAZ) lobbied for access to sexual reproductive health products for adolescents to prevent unwanted teen pregnancies.

“As an organisation we believe that this urgently need to be addressed using the lenses of the era that we are living in, where the law on one side is saying something else, while cultural norms and beliefs on the other side are saying another thing with the children at the centre behave independently,” Chimwara said.

No law against child marriages

Currently, Zimbabwe has no law that criminalises child marriage and this has promoted sexual abuse and exploitation of young girls. Most of the men who impregnate teenagers decline responsibility for the pregnancies.

Home Affairs and Cultural Heritage minister Kazembe Kazembe confirmed this circumstance but refused to comment saying: “In Zimbabwe we have nothing called child marriage.

“My department has nothing to say about child marriage in Zimbabwe because it is not a criminal offence. We have no law on child marriages now.”

Without laws which criminalise the sexual exploitation of children, cases of child pregnancies have escalated over the past years.

Statistics from the United Nations Population Fund (UNFPA) showed that about 350 000 girls between the ages of 10 and 19 fell pregnant between 2019 and 2022 in Zimbabwe.

According to the recently released National Assessment on Adolescent Pregnancies in Zimbabwe survey report that was conducted by the Health and Child Care  ministry in conjunction with Unicef and Unesco, more than 4 000 girls aged between 10 and 14 years, fell pregnant and were booked to deliver at health institutions countrywide between 2019 and 2021.

The survey also found that 2021 had the highest number of pregnant adolescent girls aged from 10 to 14 years.

An increasing number of pregnant adolescent girls tested positive for HIV upon booking at antenatal clinics.

The report attributed the increasing incidence of pregnancy among adolescents to closure of schools and the reported increase in domestic violence due to the COVID-19 pandemic.

Thirty percent of adolescent girls were found to be sexually active, while approximately 31% (134) reported having had forced intercourse in their first sexual encounter, and around 75% (315) said their first sexual encounter was with boyfriends.

Only 23% (97) was with husbands, 1,5% (10) with strangers, 0,8% (6) with relatives and 0,1% (2) with casual partners.

Paternity test

Lana (15), who is also pregnant was left hopeless when a court asked her to bring a paternity test after her mother filed a case of rape. The case was heard at Epworth Magistrates Courts in May this year.

Lana says she was sexually exploited by her boyfriend’s friend in January this year without protection and in February, her boyfriend also had unprotected sex with her leading to confusion as to who was responsible for the pregnancy.

“On this day, l met my boyfriend’s friend on my way to the shops. He told me that he also was on his way to the shops but wanted to pass through his house to pick up something. He asked if I could accompany him and I agreed since both of us were heading to the shops,” Lana said.

When they got to his house, he asked her to get inside and wait for him to fetch something.

“To my surprise when I got into his house he locked the door and asked if we could have sex. At first, I refused but he was adamant that he was not going to open the door until I gave in.

“I gave in,” said Lana.

From there she never met him again and in February this year, she was intimate with her boyfriend.

Later she discovered that she was pregnant but she does not know by whom.

“My mother was forcing me to elope but both men are refusing responsibility,” she said.

With no one on her side, Lana decided to report the case to the police. Her boyfriend and his friend were both arrested, but the court said paternity tests should be carried out to determine the father of the child before further proceedings.

The two suspects were released on bail.

“What pains me most is that these guys are now making a joke of me saying that I am cheap,” said Lana with a broken voice.

Lana dropped out of school due to the pregnancy.

She was in Form 1.

The surge in child pregnancies in Zimbabwe, according to the UNFPA has seen about 3 000 girls dropping out of school in 2019.

“In 2020 the number of school dropouts due to teen pregnancies rose to 4 770, and 5 000 in 2021,” the organisation said.

I thought I was going to die

Felicia (17), a single mother to a four-month-old baby is back in with her mother after she was physically abused by her husband.

Due to peer pressure, Felicia dated a 24-year-old man from her neighbourhood.

“With my boyfriend, we used to be intimate whenever we felt like, with or without protection and when I realised that I was pregnant we decided that I should move in with him,” she said.

Felicia’s husband paid a bride prize in-line with the African custom.

“We stayed together for a few months, but things changed when he started abusing me,” said Felicia with tears rolling down her cheeks.

She would be forced to sleep outside on an empty stomach, but one day her husband turned into a beast.

“On this day my husband brought his new girlfriend home.  When I asked about it, he grabbed me by the throat and started beating me up,” said Felicia adding;

“I thought that I was going to die.

“I was saved by the neighbours who then told my mother the situation that I was living in as they feared that my life was in danger.”

Felicia had hidden the abuse from her mother for a long time fearing that she would not accept her back home.

Felicia’s mother, Faustina Dube, however, welcomed her back with both hands.

“Ndakati mwana wangu ngaadzoke, because unourairwa mwana”, (Fearing that she might be killed, I decided to take my daughter back). I know that my child was impregnated while in school and what pains me the most is that she was so bright and she had to drop out of school,” said Dube.

Dube said she was initially bitter with her daughter but had now accepted the mistake she made.

Due to pregnancy, many girls fail to proceed with their education, compromising their future in the process.

Felicia is a first-born in a family of three. Her father died when she was very young.

“Now that I am back at my mother’s despite having to face societal stigma, sometimes labelled “vekumitiswa” (those who were impregnated), I have also joined the RhoNaFlo family an organisation that provides maternity support to young mothers in my area,” she said.


For Chipo Tsitsi Mlambo, founder and director of RhoNaFlo Foundation, helping teen mothers is something personal to her.

“I lost my mother when she was giving birth to my brother. I was a teenager. The pain could not easily go away, I had to do something that I felt was therapeutic to me”, said Mlambo.

Under the banner: RhoNaFlo Foundation, Mlambo has been providing maternal health support to young mothers. She recently introduced a therapeutic intervention.

“I spent more time with teen mothers; I realised that their problems are a multi-layer of abuse. There have no safety nets, the perpetrators live with them in the same community; family abandonment and societal stigma — It is just too much. According to our Shona culture, first mothers should give birth under the care of their mothers but young mothers in Epworth are living alone with no financial support, mentally and even socially,” said Mlambo.

They introduced an art therapy that focuses on making teen mothers relax, pouring their dreams on a canvas board.

Hermit Myambo of Hermit Art, one of the artists who has been working with young mothers through the art therapy sessions, said art had a way of making people relax.

“Art gives people hope as they can speak their dreams through paint and canvas and I believe that this is the kind of hope that the teen mothers need to help them relive their dreams,” Myambo said.

Ruvimbo, who participated in one of the art therapies, of “what you aspire to be” confirmed that therapy was relaxing and could make her forget her worries for a moment.

“When I was growing up, I always dreamt of becoming a flight attendant, having an opportunity to visit the world and see different people and places.

“Today, I got an opportunity to relive that as I managed to draw an aeroplane as part of my dreams,” she said. 

Find out in the final part of Breaking the Stigma: Zimbabwe’s Teenage Mothers Speak Out About Family Abandonment and Societal Challenges how young mothers are working hard to change their ill-fated situations.

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Six die in plane crash

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By Staff Reporter

A plane believed to be owned by Rio Zimbabwe, has reportedly crashed in Mashava this morning killing six people.

According to state media reports, the plane was  travelling from Harare to Zvishavane when it crashed.

It is also reported that it was going to transport diamonds but developed a technical fault before it plunged into Peter Farm in the Zvamahande area.

All passengers and crew allegedly died on the spot.

Unconfirmed reports state the plane might have exploded mid-air before hitting the ground.

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RioZim owner, five others die in plane crash

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By Staff Reporter

A plane believed to be owned by Rio Zimbabwe, crashed in Mashava this morning killing six people.

According to state media reports, the plane was  travelling from Harare to Zvishavane when it crashed.

It is also reported that it was going to transport diamonds but developed a technical fault before it plunged into Peter Farm in the Zvamahande area.

All passengers and crew died on the spot.

Unconfirmed reports state the plane might have exploded mid-air before hitting the ground.

Top journalist and filmmaker, Hopewell Chin’ono said some the deceased are Rio Zim owner Harpal Randhawa and his son.

“I am deeply saddened with the passing of Harpal Randhawa, the owner of Rio Zim who died today in a plane crash in Zvishavane.

“Five other people including his son who was also a pilot, but a passenger on this flight also died in the crash,” wrote Chin’ono on X.

Chin’ono said he first met Harpal in 2017 through a mutual friend and businessman, Kalaa Mpinga who owned Mwana Africa mines.

“Through him I met many people in the business, diplomatic, and political worlds.

“My thoughts are with his wife, family, friends and the Rio Zim community,” he added.

Rio Zim company secretary Gova said a full statement will be issued.

“I am not in a position to address the media right now. We will however be issuing a statement as soon as possible,” he said.

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Leveraging our own natural resources for development – NewsDay

Zimbabwe has operational mines already producing gold, nickel, platinum, coal, chrome and diamonds.

THE growth in global demand for lithium has led to an increasing number of new mining investments in Zimbabwe. Sabi Star mine became the latest lithium extraction operation to be commissioned by President Emmerson Mnangagwa in August.

It is reasonable to expect more capital to be assigned in that sector, as Zimbabwe is ranked as having the sixth-largest lithium deposits, worldwide.

The country is also at the threshold of Coal Bed Methane (CBM) extraction. A locally-owned entity named Alabara resources is reported to be establishing a new CBM mine, after feasibility studies proved the availability of commercial quantities of the resource.

Vast CBM resources are understood to be available in the Matabeleland North province of the country, particularly in Lupane, Gwayi and Hwange.

Around five more corporations are carrying out explorations in the province, with strong indications that, they too will be into commercial production before 2025.

On the other hand, Invictus Energy, an independent oil and gas company, is at advanced stages in the quest to prove the existence of oil and gas in the Cabora Bassa Basin.

A production sharing agreement was established as far back as January, 2021, with the framework on how the corporation and government will split the extracted oil between each other once discovered.

Apart from the possibility of new resources, Zimbabwe has operational mines already producing gold, nickel, platinum, coal, chrome and diamonds.

Government revenue from the extractive sector is mostly generated through royalties charged on the minerals, taxes and profit sharing, in the case where mining joint-ventures have been established between the government and private sector.

Since mineral resources are non-renewable, it is crucial for the government to establish a framework, which it will use in order to ensure that revenue from the extractive sector is utilised for economic diversification and development.

Additionally, the responsible management of funds gathered from the mining sector will permeate the creation of a resilient economy, which will be more impervious to external shocks. It will have more fiscal space to meet all budget requirements and transfer some of the mineral wealth to future generations through the Sovereign Wealth Fund of Zimbabwe.

Available channels for value creation

There are essentially three methods, which the government can use to link resource revenues to development. The methods are not exclusive, meaning that, they can be utilised as a combination.

Firstly, revenues from taxes, royalties and profit sharing may be used to finance the countries’ development agenda. If human development is a priority, then education, healthcare, provision of clean water and electricity, are likely to be the programmes of choice.

With transformational revenues, cash payments to either local communities where extraction is taking place, or to a considerable section of the country’s population, can be targeted.

Whereas, if public infrastructure or economic diversification are more urgent, then funds will be routed to those areas.

Secondly, the government can encourage “local content” policies, which promote the use of local suppliers in procurement and employment. In the case where local suppliers to the extractive sector need capacitation, revenues may be assigned towards their capacitation through investments in machinery, certifications, and other capital requirements.

For organisations, which employ locals, marginal tax concessions may be offered. It is crucial to outline that extractive projects, such as oil, gas and other minerals, characteristically take 10 or more years from exploration to significant or peak productivity.

For this reason, local procurement and employment frameworks will utilise much of the miners’ available funds, before significant production starts.

The exploration and construction phases will typically involve industrial-level procurement, specialised and general employees.

Thirdly, it has become the tradition that several extractive corporations provide local community investments in order to strengthen their “social capital” (local approval).

In some cases, companies establish roads, bridges, irrigation, schools or clinics. Government should encourage such developments wherever the corporations are operational. Collaborative effort between government and the miners is also desirable.

A case in point is when a company has enough funds to build a school or clinic but does not have the capacity or assurance that it will be able to pay recurring expenses such as  salaries.

In that regard, the company may build the infrastructure, whilst the government takes ownership of the recurring expenditures.

Defining development goals

At the outset, the government needs to set development goals, which it will to link to the inflows of natural resource revenues. This means that a predetermined portion of revenues from extractives will be directed to fund these goals. When there is clarity on the developmental targets, the connection between revenues and the development agenda is more direct and effective.

Measurability of the impact of resource revenues also becomes possible. The development targets may include spending the earned revenues on economic diversification, cash transfers, education, health, clean water, electricity, infrastructure, etc.

If the country is to achieve sustainable and robust growth, then resource revenues should be earmarked for economic diversification. A look at the experiences of Nigeria and Indonesia, describing how they invested their oil revenues, may provide pertinent lessons for Zimbabwe. When Nigeria began to experience significantly high oil revenues (1960- 1973) there were accompanying major forex inflows.

This led to a sharp appreciation of the local currency (naira).

Subsequently, agricultural and other exports, which were dependent on a relatively weaker naira, for their competitiveness, became more expensive in US dollar terms.

As a result, the agricultural sector suffered terribly, which drove the nation to be even more dependant on oil. On the other hand, in Indonesia, the oil and gas revenues were used to subsidise the agricultural sector through the provision of fertilisers, irrigation, roads and other rural infrastructure, where agricultural activity was concentrated.

The strengthening of the local currency, therefore, had limited impact on reducing the competitiveness of agricultural products in both the local and foreign markets.

Thus, farming thrived in Indonesia and continued to grow until it became a major agricultural nation, globally. From comparable starting points, before the discovery of oil, it eventually took Nigeria, until 2008, to reach the level of human development that Indonesia reached by 1980.

In the same manner, Treasury in Zimbabwe should focus on strengthening other sectors of the economy, such as export-agriculture, strategic manufacturing (niche or key products such as oxygen, textiles, tobacco processing, fertilisers), etc.

With regards to export-agriculture, funds may be availed for extension services, contract farming, transportation, storage and administration. This will increase forex-inflows and uphold both local employment and economic growth.

Unlike funding subsistence farmers, which drains fiscal revenues, yearly, export-oriented farming will yield income for both government and households, which preferably, should be rural-based.

The Sovereign Wealth Fund of Zimbabwe can drive these diversification programmes.

A portion of the revenues may be used to make cash transfers to local communities where the extraction of resources is occurring. This may be particularly desirable for peri-urban and rural areas, as the additional income will ignite economic activity in the isolated regions.

With substantive cash payments, the areas may become industrialised or contribute significantly towards reversing urbanisation and pressure on public services in the cities.

As an example, paying a monthly stipend of US$2 per each individual in the rural areas may have a direct cost to Treasury of US$22 million per month, or less.

Rural inhabitants are around 11 million; using an estimated country population of 16 million, according to the World Bank, with the rural portion making 67,4% of the figure.

If commodity revenues are transformational (major), the payments seem possible. Such disbursements may be exactly what it takes to spark burgeoning rural economies. With vigorous rural economies, Zimbabwe’s overall economic potential will be fully unlocked.

In 2022, the Amalgamated Rural Teachers Union of Zimbabwe (Artuz), published a research document titled Beyond geographies of inequality: Public Education Financing in Post-Covid Zimbabwe.

The findings of the research were that 63% of rural pupils dropped out of school in 2022, and most of them are girls. The cost of education remains restrictive, especially to the less-affluent urban and rural residents.

A lack of reading and numeracy skills was also observed in rural pupils, with an incidence of 85% and 86%, respectively. Further, the educational infrastructure and quality of teachers is not up to par, whilst the lack of access to clean water and electricity do much to compound the experiences of students subject to rural education.

The impetuous challenges, which these circumstances will bring to the students and their communities, in the next few years, include poverty, unemployment, social isolation, inequality and underdevelopment.

If the government is keen on reversing or mitigating some of these challenges, then a portion of Treasury’s income from the extractive sector needs to be channelled to rural areas.

When there is fiscal capacity (extra revenue), this should be a priority area. Government spending may earmark, completely free education in those parts of the country.

Additionally, incentives such as free meals, books, and, or, uniforms, will motivate the pupils to complete their classes, at least from grade one, to Ordinary Level.

Leveraging resources in this manner will offer multiple direct and indirect benefits, including the reversal of urbanisation and subsequently, pressures on public services such as water, electricity and waste management in the cities.

Deepening investments in reliable electricity generation, provision of clean water and public infrastructure will also be viable designations of the resource revenues.

Managing risks and expectations

In some cases, the citizens may wrongly interpret that a discovery of new resources directly means that they are to immediately shift from poverty to wealth. Therefore, when there is no management of such expectations, there is bound to be discontent, which, in worst cases, may break into insurgency.

This has been the situation in the Niger delta, where local communities feel deprived of the region’s oil resources. Closer to Zimbabwe, armed-conflict broke out in Cabo Delgado in Mozambique, on the same basis.

It is thus vital for government to convey the delays that should be expected by the public in enjoying the effects of new resource discoveries.

A number of risks also need to be managed, for the prudent administration of revenues. Chiefly, it is vital to resist spending revenues before they are earned. This can be done when a government borrows, with the target of using future income from the extractive sector, as a means to repay the borrowed amount.

In 2012, Zambia borrowed US$750 million to fund projects in energy and transportation, with the expectation that copper production would continue to drive economic growth.

However, just two years later, copper prices fell by 30% and the local currency (Kwacha) depreciated. Further, the country’s credit rating was downgraded, owing to concerns over its ability to service its growing public debt. Zambia is now on an IMF programme to resolve its debt overhang.

Since prices of commodities are volatile, it is judicious to forecast revenues based on average or lower price-levels. Using highest-possible prices in revenue forecasting is not advisable.

Additionally, for commodities with extremely volatile prices, revenues must not be committed towards recurring expenditures. Rather, once-off or capital investments are suitable in such cases. Ultimately, it is crucial for government to maintain policy consistency, from the time when exploration for resources commences to the construction of mines.

Without consistency in government policy, investments will be delayed or rerouted to other destinations, apart from Zimbabwe.


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