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Mbire villagers hit hard by poor masau harvests – The Herald

Sifelani Tsiko
Agric, Environment & Innovations Editor

In a good year, Irene Chifunda (40) of Mandaza Village in the Ward 15, Mbire District in the northern part of the country can collect more than 20 bags of masau – a popular and sour-tasting edible indigenous wild fruit earning her some income to meet her households needs.

For her, Masau fruits (Ziziphus mauritiana) form part of her family’s diet and generate additional income by selling at local markets as far afield as Harare and Bulawayo.

The wild fruits found in Mudzi, Muzarabani and Mbire districts in the Lower Zambezi Valley are an important natural resource for the people in these dry and arid regions.

“For me masau are a form of insurance against hunger and poverty,” she said.

“During drought years they save us from hunger. We pick masau, matamba and shumha to survive.”

But this year, things are different despite the good rains that the country experienced.

“This year the masau yields are very low. Violent storms destroyed the masau tree flowers and I do not think I will even get five buckets,” Chifunda said.

“In good years, I can get more than 20 bags earning about US$100 or so. We use the income to buy maize or millet grain and other household items such as soap, clothes and cooking oil.

“I also use masau to raise money for ‘rounds’ (ISALs – Internal Savings and lending schemes) here at our village.”

The situation is dire for villagers in Muzarabani and Mbire districts.

“The masau fruits are very low this year. God didn’t smile on us . we wish we had adequate masau this year,” said Helen Mufundisi (33) of Mutinha 1 village, in the Madzomba area of Mbire close to the northern border with Mozambique.

“Our life here depends heavily on masau. We survive on selling masau. The yields this year are poor and I don’t know where we will get money to pay fees, to buy uniforms, clothes and food.

“Our ‘rounds’ schemes will be affected. Already people have nothing to pay for ma ‘rounds.’ Our lives are miserable without masau.”

The Madzomba area did not receive adequate rains and crop harvests are poor this season. People here attributed the low masau harvests to climate change – which is now bringing violent storms, affecting the flowering of the masau fruit.

“The drought here is severe and we did not get good rains. We have nothing in our fields. The poor masau yields make our life so tough here,” Mufundisi said.

“In a good year, I can get 20 buckets or more of masau fruit. We can sell a bucket at prices ranging from US$5 to $10 depending on availability. You can earn more from dried masau when you sell them late.”

In Zimbabwe, masau can be used as food, fodder and biomass fuel.

Local communities also use masau to treat a variety of ailments including flu, cold, malnutrition-related diseases, convulsions in children and indigestion.

“A lot of people here didn’t get a good harvest. The trees did not yield much for us and we fear that hunger will be intense this year,” said Loveness Guvheya (43) of Kanongo A village in Madzomba.

“This year we can’t talk much about masau. There is nothing to talk about. We rely on masau to support our husbands with income. We use the income to buy millet, sugar, salt, soap and to pay for fees for our children,” she said.

Guvheya said in a good year, she can get 50 (50kg) bags earning between US$500 and US$600 in a season.

“When I sell masau I can buy plates, cups, buckets, shoes, food and uniforms for my children,” she said.

“I can use the income from masau to survive for a year. This income is important for our survival here in Madzomba.”

Farmers in the drought prone Mbire district also grow cotton and sesame (runinga) which they sell to traders locally and in Mozambique.

“Sesame is a good crop and you can earn cash fast. But you cannot survive on income from cotton and sesame for a year. We need to supplement this with income from masau sales,” said Fanere Vhiri of Madzomba village.

In the Lower Zambezi Valley, most households become food insecure when masau yields are poor.

More than 80 percent of the households rely on collecting masau fruits as one of their main sources of food and income.

The fruits are mainly sold for cash, brewed into alcoholic beverage and barter traded against various commodities in the dry and arid regions, north of the country.

Indigenous fruits such as masau, mauyu (Adansonia digitata), mapfura (Sclerocarya Birrea), mazhanje (Uapaca kirkiana), matamba (Strychnos), nyii (Berchemia discolour), maroro (Annona senegalensis) and matufu (Vangueria Infausta) among others help cushion communities against the effects of climate change by providing a good source of minerals and vitamins during the dry season and in areas where rain-fed agriculture is not viable.

The country’s forests are rich in a wide variety of edible fruits that can be consumed as raw, snacks and dietary supplements, including trading them for income.

Some communities were now processing some of these fruits into tradable finished products that are important for household consumptions, such as beverages, beer, soups, jam, porridges, among others.

Wild fruits are an important resource for local communities in dry and arid regions.

Locals guard the trees jealously and when seeds sprout around their yards, they fence around it using thorny tree branches to help keep away domestic animals.

Traditional leaders often discourage people from cutting the masau fruit tree as it is an important source of food and income in lean seasons. Village heads also discourage traders and villagers from using crude methods of harvesting, such as shaking the branches and throwing objects to dislodge the fruits.

This, they say, damages trees and lowers yields in following seasons. Those who are caught cutting down trees, are often fined or banned from harvesting the fruit.

Zimbabwe is endowed with many indigenous fruits which are distributed in different parts of the country.

The Forestry Commission often runs campaigns that have helped local communities to recognise the essential role played by forest fruit products in people’s livelihoods.

This has helped the communities to change their attitudes towards the forests.

“We have to guard our remaining forests and use masau and other wild fruits to survive the problems that are coming with climate change,” said Vhiri.

“Indigenous fruits are important cash plants for us. We also use them to improve our nutrition and in times of famine, they are an important food backup.

“Masau have many functions and are very important in reducing hunger and poverty in our community.”

Masau fruit can fetch about US$20 per 50-kg bag in cities such as Harare, Gweru, Mutare and Bulawayo. Local communities also use it to barter, exchanging the fruit for maize, chicken, clothes and goats.

The masau fruit are also found in neighbouring Malawi, Mozambique and Zambia.

“The national production of masau in Zimbabwe is estimated at 200 000 tonnes per year,” Hendrex Phiri, a researcher into African fruits, was quoted saying in a report, a few years ago.

“Unfortunately, most of this undergoes post-harvest losses, with over 60 percent of it having to be discarded. Other problems are poor marketing and inadequate harvest and processing techniques, as well as lack of strategic product development for value-addition to fruits. It is a shame that local producers do not get more support to develop this very promising sector.”

But things have changed and Bindura University of Science Education (BUSE) now runs the Masawu Value Addition Project to harness wild fruits through value addition.

Zimbabwe now has the Mwenezi Marula/Mapfura Processing and Value Addition Plant that was commissioned last year in Masvingo Province. The projects have greatly improved livelihoods in the dry and arid regions of the country.

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African 2026 World Cup Qualifying Fixtures

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Although the 2026 FIFA World Cup is still years away, the African qualifiers are set to begin soon. The next World Cup will be held in three locations for the first time in history – the US, Canada, and Mexico. CAF has secured 9 slots for African teams who will battle it out for a chance to play on the global stage. Below, we review the African 2026 FIFA World Cup qualification schedule and fixtures.

New Qualification Format

Nine CAF teams will make it to the World Cup. This is a change from the previous five, which means local and international betting sites have to update their betting lines even as the CAF adjusts its qualification format. The CAF announced this new format on May 19 this year. Now, participating teams will be drawn into nine groups of six teams, with each group winner qualifying directly for the World Cup. 

Draw and Groups

On July 13, the CAF performed the draw for the qualifications in Abidjan, Ivory Coast. All 54 CAF football associations will be represented, and the teams will be divided into the following groups:

  1. Group I: Chad, Comoros, CAR, Madagascar, Ghana, Mali
  2. Group H: Sao Tome and Principe, Liberia, Malawi, Namibia, Equatorial Guinea, Tunisia
  3. Group G: Somalia, Botswana, Mozambique, Uganda, Guinea, Algeria
  4. Group F: Seychelles, Burundi, Gambia, Kenya, Gabon, Ivory Coast
  5. Group E: Eritrea, Niger, Tanzania, Congo, Zambia, Morocco
  6. Group D: Mauritius, Eswatini, Libya, Angola, Cape Verde, Cameroon
  7. Group C: Lesotho, Rwanda, Zimbabwe, Benin, South Africa, Nigeria
  8. Group B: South Sudan, Sudan, Togo, Mauritania, DR Congo, Senegal
  9. Group A: Djibouti, Ethiopia, Sierra Leone, Guinea, Burkina Faso, Egypt


The qualifiers will be held across 10 match days with some combined dates for the playoff semifinals and finals. The closest dates to look forward to are:

Matchday One: Nov. 13-21, 2023

  1. Group I: Comoros Vs. Central African Republic, Ghana Vs. Madagascar, Mali Vs. Chad
  2. Group H: Liberia Vs. Malawi, Equatorial Guinea Vs. Namibia, Tunisia Vs. Sao Tome e Principe
  3. Group G: Botswana Vs. Mozambique, Guinea Vs. Uganda, Algeria Vs. Somalia
  4. Group F: Burundi Vs. Gambia, Gabon Vs. Kenya, Ivory Coast Vs. Seychelles
  5. Group E: Niger Vs. Tanzania, Zambia Vs. Congo Brazzaville, Morocco Vs. Eritrea
  6. Group D: Eswatini Vs. Libya, Cape Verde Vs. Angola, Cameroon Vs. Mauritius
  7. Group C: Rwanda Vs. Zimbabwe, South Africa Vs. Benin, Nigeria Vs. Lesotho
  8. Group B: Sudan Vs. Togo, Senegal Vs. South Sudan, Democratic Republic of Congo Vs. Mauritania,
  9. Group A: Ethiopia Vs. Sierra Leone, Burkina Faso Vs. Guinea-Bissau, Egypt Vs. Djibouti

Matchday Two: Nov. 13-21, 2023

  1. Group I: Chad Vs. Madagascar, Comoros Vs. Ghana, CAR Vs. Mali
  2. Group H: Sao Tome Vs. Namibia, Liberia Vs. E. Guinea, Malawi Vs. Tunisia
  3. Group G: Somalia Vs. Uganda, Botswana Vs. Guinea, Mozambique Vs. Algeria
  4. Group F: Seychelles Vs. Kenya, Burundi Vs. Gabon, Gambia Vs. I. Coast
  5. Group E: Eritrea Vs. Congo, Niger Vs. Zambia, Tanzania Vs. Morocco
  6. Group D: Mauritius Vs. Angola, Eswatini Vs. Cape Verde, Libya Vs. Cameroon
  7. Group C: Lesotho Vs. Benin, Rwanda Vs. S. Africa, Zimbabwe Vs. Nigeria
  8. Group B: S. Sudan Vs. Mauritania, Sudan Vs. DR Congo, Togo Vs. Senegal
  9. Group A: Djibouti Vs. G. Bissau, Ethiopia Vs. B. Faso, S. Leone Vs. Egypt

Wrapping Up

The African (CAF) qualification campaign will kick off in November and set the stage for the 54 participating countries to compete for the 9 World Cup slots. Meanwhile, Morocco’s run in the 2022 World Cup has revitalized enough hope on the continent for a real shot at the trophy.

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We do not recognise Mnangagwa as President – says opposition as MPs boycott 10th Parliament opening, SONA address

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By Staff Reporter

CITIZENS Coalition for Change legislators have snubbed the State of the Nation Address (SONA) delivered by President Emmerson Mnangagwa at the opening of the 10th Parliament.

According to a source, the decision to steer clear of the SONA along with the official opening of the 10th Parliament came from the party.

This is the latest protest by the opposition party following the conclusion of the general elections in August.

President Mnangagwa emerged winner with a 52,6% share of the vote while Chamisa got 44%.

CCC has since disputed the election results while calling for a rerun.

“We have been told to remain in our constituencies. The directive came as a party position,” revealed the source.

Opposition spokesperson Promise Mkwananzi said: “We are boycotting the processes that Mnangagwa wants us to undertake on the basis of the fact that we as CCC do not recognize an election that put him there. The election was a sham, it did not go well. If fell abysmally short of the expected standards of a free and fair election in terms of the laws of Zimbabwe as well as in terms of SADC and AU protocols on free and fair elections.

“Accordingly, we are not attending that process. We want to send a clear message that there should be a free election in Zimbabwe under the auspices of SADC. So, that is the message that will be sending out.”

After the contested 2018 general election, then MDC-Alliance MPs walked out as soon as Mnangagwa began his SONA in protest.

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Zanu PF dispels any hope for Transitional government, maintains August elections were free and fair

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By Leopold Munhende | Chief Correspondent

ZANU PF Treasurer General Patrick Chinamasa has dispelled hopes for a transitional government or rerun, options being pushed regionally after Zimbabwe’s heavily criticised August polls.

Chinamasa took to Twitter Monday to declare that, despite regional and international criticism of the election, Zanu PF maintained it was free and fair.

He described calls for a rerun of the elections won by President Emmerson Mnangagwa, as neocolonial.

Mnangagwa claimed 52.6% of the presidential vote against main contender Citizens Coalition for Change (CCC) President Nelson Chamisa’s 44%.

“I ask the CCC class and its Prefect, Nelson Chamisa, to repeat after me the following that the 23rd of August 2023 was free, fair, transparent, and credible; that there will be no rerun of the elections,” said Chinamasa.

“There will be no Government of National Unity (GNU), there will be no so-called Transitional Authority (whatever that may mean), Zimbabwe, under Zanu PF’s watch will never be a banana republic.

“Zanu PF will forever say “NO” to neocolonialism and hegemonism and an emphatic “NO” to subjugation by sanctions-imposing Western countries, Nyika Inovakwa Nevene Vayo, Ichitongwa Nevene Vayo, Ichinamatirwa Nevene Vayo, Ichichengetedzwa Nevene Vayo, Ichidzivirirwa Nevene Vayo. 

Zimbabwe will never, never, never be a colony again.”

Mnangagwa’s re-election has received massive criticism after heavy bungling by the Zimbabwe Electoral Commission (ZEC) on August 23.

Late provision of voting material, allegations of voter intimidation by Central Intelligence Organisation (CIO) backed Forever Associates Zimbabwe (FAZ), barring of opposition rallies, arrest of opposing politicians and accusations ZEC had been captured by the military all worked against its credibility.

The European Union (EU), Commonwealth, United Kingdom (UK), regional body SADC and AU all questioned its fairness.

Zanu PF has spent the greater part of Zimbabwe’s post election period to lay into Zambian President Hakainde Hichilema whom it accuses of orchestrating negative reviews of Zimbabwe’s polls by SADC.

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