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TOPIC: zimbabwe

Economy

Why Are Zimbabwe’s Gold Miners Risking Deadly Mercury Exposure

Mercury exposure can be deadly. So why are gold miners in Zimbabwe using the dangerous chemical — and risking their lives and the health of their communities in the process?

The young men brace for the first shock of cold water as they enter the river, easing their way into another day of illegal gold mining.

David Mauta and Wisdom Nyakurima, both 18, stand knee-deep in the Odzi River near the eastern Zimbabwe mining city of Mutare and shovel gravel onto a woven mat. They hinge their hopes on finding flakes of shiny gold. But it’s another metal whose dangers they don’t recognize that may have a more lasting impact.

Every day, they touch and breathe mercury, a silverly chemical element that carries deadly implications. The toxic liquid metal is key to their gold-mining efforts, as is the government, which purchases their gold even as officials vow to eliminate mercury’s use. The young men are unregistered artisanal miners, freelance workers who don’t have a license to operate. They sift through rocks in the river and dump beads of mercury over the sediment, which clings to gold. Then they light a match, using the flame to separate the mercury from the gold, a process that shoots toxic vapors into the air.

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When Migrants Vanish: Families Quietly Endure Uncertainty

Zimbabweans cling to hope even after years of silence from loved ones who have disappeared across borders.

HARARE, ZIMBABWE — Blessing Tichagwa can barely remember her mother. Like hundreds of thousands of Zimbabweans, Noma Muyambo emigrated to South Africa in search of work, leaving baby Blessing, now 15, behind with her grandmother.

The last time they saw her was nine years ago, when Blessing was 6. Muyambo returned for one week, then left again — and has not sent any messages or money since.

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Ukraine Cities Targeted, Xi v. Trudeau, Lego Eiffel

👋 Բարև*

Welcome to Thursday, where Russia continues major airstrikes of Ukrainian cities, the Republicans win control of the U.S. House of Representatives with a slim majority, and Lego releases its tallest set ever. Meanwhile, Global Press Journal zooms in on an unlikely leading candidate ahead of next year’s presidential election in Zimbabwe.

[*Barev - Armenian]

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Nelson Chamisa, The Outsider Shaking Up Zimbabwe’s Presidential Race

Backers of the opposition's presidential candidate see hope in upstart victories in Malawi and Zambia. But in Zimbabwe, a single party has been in power for more than four decades.

MUTARE — Precious Dinha elbows her way into a packed soccer stadium. Despite thunderclouds looming above, thousands of yellow-clad Zimbabweans are singing, dancing and thrusting their index fingers skyward. They wave placards in Shona and English saying, “We need democracy in Zimbabwe” and “Police stop brutality against citizens.” Dinha unfurls her own large white banner: “We want free and fair elections.”

Soon Zimbabwe’s leading opposition presidential candidate, 44-year-old Nelson Chamisa, bounds onto a stage. “Do you embrace the new?” he asks. “Yes!” the crowd shouts. Dinha traveled close to four hours from Harare, the capital, to hear Chamisa speak. She attends every Chamisa rally she can, wearing yellow, the color of his movement, and reveling in the festive atmosphere. This event marks the formal introduction of his new political party, Citizens Coalition for Change (CCC), in eastern Zimbabwe ahead of next year’s presidential election.

Dinha, 32, believes Chamisa’s relative youth and outsider perspective can help resuscitate Zimbabwe’s listless economy, with high levels of unemployment, inflation and food insecurity. “I have never been employed despite having professional qualifications. I do not even know what a pay slip looks like,” Dinha says. She was trained as a human resources manager but raises chickens and sells secondhand clothes to get by. “He understands us as youths, and there are promises of reviving the economy so that we can also have jobs.”

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Society
Fortune Moyo*

The Women In Zimbabwe Building Gender Equality, Brick By Brick

The pandemic has accelerated generational shifts as more women in Zimbabwe join the once male-dominated construction industry.

VICTORIA FALLS - Last year, Charity Nyoni walked by a group of men who were painting a house and asked if she could help.

They laughed.

When she insisted, the team’s leader agreed to let her join them the next time.victoria

“When I arrived at the said place, the men were shocked,” Nyoni says. “I held a paintbrush for the first time in my life, I enjoyed it, and I have never looked back.”

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Sources
Elsa Dorey iQ and Klervi Le Cozic iQ

In Zimbabwe, Where Grandma Steps In For Missing Shrinks

In the absence of qualified staff, grandmothers from the Friendship Benches program offer free listening and advice to patients suffering from depression.

HARARE — In Shona, there is no word for depression. So, to talk about it, "we say "kufungisisa," which means ‘thinking too much,"" says Esilida, 73, while waiting for her next patient on a wooden bench in the clinic of Glen Norah, an impoverished suburb in Zimbabwe"s capital Harare. "I explain to them how to take care of themselves," she says in a rocky and breathless voice, examining visitors that come and go.

All sorts of miseries are unloaded onto her bench: Domestic violence, lack of money, fear of being rejected because of AIDS, unemployment. "If my patient has several problems, we approach them together, one by one, until we've solved them all." Esilida is among the first grandmothers in her neighborhood to get involved in the Friendship Bench program. These old women, present in most of Harare's clinics, offer free listening and advice in a country with only 14 psychiatrists.

I didn't set up the project to look good. I did it because it was necessary

Dixon Chibanda is one of them. He is behind the project that has been present in most of the capital's suburbs since 2006. At that time, Zimbabwe's few psychiatrists left the country in the middle of an economic crisis. While he was carrying out his a masters degree in public health, Chibanda realized there was a high level of mental health disorders, such as depression and anxiety, in working-class neighborhoods. He decided to act and enlisted the help of Harare's public health department. Symbolic help, that is to say, because no funding, doctors, nurses or buildings were granted. "I was offered to work with 14 volunteer grandmothers who were already health advisers in the Mbare neighborhood. I didn't set up the project to look good. I did it because it was necessary."

Mental health guards

This morning, it is Jane's third appointment with Esilida. She discovered the Friendship Bench initiative when she was picking up her AIDS medication at the clinic. After the death of her husband, she found herself penniless and Esilida suggested they sit down. "I cried again and again. The counselor told me: ‘You will die, I will die too. You have to think about your children, take your medication every day, and eat the right food.""

Even if the language they use may be a bit too direct sometimes, the grandmothers know what they're doing. Themselves neighborhood's residents, the grannies know very well the living conditions of their patients — because they live in the same conditions. True guards for mental health, these social workers help ward off depression before it settles in and causes severe mental health problems.

In 2016, more than 85,000 people sat down on a friendship bench. This approach, more social than psychiatric, can be summarized in three concepts. "‘Kusimudzira," to lift your spirit, ‘kusimbisa," to strengthen your mind, and ‘kusimbisisa" to strengthen it even more," said Esilida, pointing to the words on the yellow loincloth that she has around her body.

Every Wednesday, former Friendship Bench patients gather in a speaking circle that combines moral support and financial help. As they sing and listen to each other, participants also learn to crochet bags they can later sell.

"Here, we hold hands rather than the mind," Esilida says with a smile. Jane uses the money to buy wholesale products at the market, and then resells them on the roadside. This way she can send her son to college.

Talking to someone who empathizes is very powerful.

Little by little, the project has spread across the country, all the way to the rural zones, where it has represented a wake-up call on the issue of mental health. In Ngomahuru, the second biggest psychiatric hospital in Zimbabwe does not have a single psychiatrist. This former leprosarium is not suitable for patients suffering from mental health disorders. "We have to improvise," says Parirenyatwa Maramba, the hospital director, pointing to the isolation cell, an empty room closed by bars: "The walls are supposed to be padded, the furniture fixed to the floor or to the wall, the room near the nurses' office ... Here, it is quite the opposite." A few days ago, a patient suffering from depression committed suicide.

Dr Maramba saw the Friendship Bench project as an opportunity to overcome the shortcomings of this place that can accommodate "180 patients instead of 300 because of a lack of staff." "Only 16 of us, out of 53 doctors, have been introduced to psychiatry, but none of us is a psychiatrist, psychologist, or occupational therapist," says the doctor, who dreams of being able to detect and treat mental diseases before they become more acute.

To optimize skills, the medical team has kept the essential parts of Chibanda's project: Caring and watching out for peers. Based on the domino effect, the psychiatrist trained the caregivers to detect mental disorders, so that in turn they transmit their new know-how to about 20 non-specialized nurses in remote clinics. "We administer these pills against headaches or to sleep without looking to understand the origins of the disorder," explains the chief nurse in the hospital. "If their disorders were detected earlier, some patients would not have to be hospitalized."

Once trained, the rural nurses will pass the baton to community workers dispersed in each village, so they can get closer to even to those who live in the most remote areas. This chain includes teachers who "deal with teenagers, whose suicides are increasing," says Dr. Maramba: "Young people have so many challenges, at school, at home, with undesired pregnancies, with strained relationships... It's a very fragile age group, that needs the help of the Friendship Bench."

In Ngomahuru, the Friendship Bench project is expanding and is gradually changing. Soon, wooden benches, a school room, the steps of a dispensary, or the shade of a mango tree will become places of listening. The idea remains the same. "They provide a space for the sick," explains Chibanda. Talking to someone who listens and empathizes with you is very powerful. Everyone needs it."

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Sources
Rumbi Chakamba

A Bank In Zimbabwe Aims To Tap Into Female Entrepreneurship

Catering specifically to women – particularly in rural areas – is not only good for gender equality, it is good for business.

HARARE – When Divine Ndhlukula first launched her security business in 1998, she found it difficult to get funding and a struggle to gain access to the markets that would allow her enterprise to thrive. "I was a woman entering the male-dominated security sector with no experience or expertise," she says. "So already, being taken seriously was a challenge. No one believes you can do it, and no one is willing to listen to you."

Twenty years later, Ndhlukula, 57, has proved her critics wrong. Harare-based SECURICO has grown into one of the biggest security companies in Zimbabwe. But Ndhlukula says things haven't changed much for women entrepreneurs in the two decades since she started her company. "The problems still exist. Role models such as myself are trying to change mind-sets, but the prejudice still exists," she says.

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CLARIN
Marcelo Cantelmi

Venezuela And Zimbabwe: The Worst Of Times And Even Worse Of Times

Mugabe and Maduro share much in common, starting with the rare ability to gut the resources of a promising national economy and disregard the will of the people. But there is an important difference that may explain who survives another day.

-Analysis-

BUENOS AIRES — They are allies that share some big problems on both the political and economic fronts: Venezuela and Zimbabwe.

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LA TERCERA

From Mugabe To Merkel, The Many Ways To Cling To Power

-Analysis-

Lord Acton's famous phrase about the corrupting effect of power (and absolute power) should have come with a footnote about the "clinging" factor. On any given day, it isn't hard to find someone in charge, somewhere in the world, using all their wits and energy to hold onto power beyond any reasonable claim to be doing so for the greater good of the nation, business or other realm supposedly being served.

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Geopolitics
Stuart Richardson

From Aung to Zimbabwe, Foreign Pressure Goes Only So Far

Zimbabwean President Robert Mugabe's three decades in power may finally be over.

Gunfire broke out late Tuesday in the Zimbabwean capital of Harare as military panzers moved in to prevent anyone from accessing government offices. At around 5 a.m. Wednesday, Maj. Gen. S.B. Moyo, a ranking member of the army, appeared on state television. "We wish to assure the nation that His Excellency, the President of the Republic of Zimbabwe Comrade RG Mugabe and his family are safe," the commander said in his statement, Al Jazeera reports. "We are only targeting criminals around him who are committing crimes that are causing social and economic suffering in the country."

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blog

Rhinoceros And Champagne

On the Zambezi, the upper end of which begets the mighty Victoria Falls, I went on a half-day cruise. There was amazing fauna to observe from the deck, and champagne to drink from the boat's open bar. Hey rhinos, here's looking at you ...