By Livingstone Mtetwa.
…As businesses close ‘potholes’ remain open both in cities and small towns.
Everyone, from privileged elites in 4x4s to the young men pushing cartloads of bananas into towns and growthpoints to sell 10 for a dollar, is affected by them.
It might sound a little frivolous when an estimated four million Zimbabweans depend on aid rations to get by, but the potholes say a great deal about this country. People pay taxes and road tolls and are regularly stopped by traffic police eager to demand money for infringements, yet the roads don’t ever improve. Locals says it’s the surest sign there is a lot of corruption on the hands of responsible parties.
Passangers in mushikashika taxis would hold on tightly as cars swerve around craters and flies across great canyons on the road only to find landing with a bang.
In the rainy season puddles hide the potholes and send cars winging into the air until a wheel manages to find the bottom of the void.
That’s is what Zimbabwe feels like, waiting for the car to hit bottom so it can start winging up again. If ever there was a country of thwarted dreams, this is it. Definitely.
There are about 16 million people in Zimbabwe, and with an estimated four million expatriates living abroad, there are likely more Zimbabweans working outside the country than in it.
The World Health Organization estimates that a quarter of the country’s population is ‘food insecure.’ Sixty-two per cent live below the poverty line.
Actually for most, just to have food on the table is the most important thing, and maybe something to wear would definitely glimmer a smile, and to ask where things have gone wrong the answer that comes back is government corruption.
In a country that still has one of the highest HIV infection rates in southern Africa, it is a huge problem. An estimated 1.4 million Zimbabweans are either HIV positive or living with AIDS but even in these cases, we (Zimbabweans) don’t really have a term for depression in our language, it’ll be a luxury to go and see a therapist because one is depressed. The term that is closest to depression is a word that literally translates to English as ‘thinking too much.’
And there’s no shortage of that in Zimbabwe. People are seeking a way out be it of their personal hardships or the country’s long trip into the void.
Healthcare in Zimbabwe
Community healthcare in Zimbabwe is undertaken by the National Health Service (NHS), Mission Hospitals, and a number of non-governmental organizations (NGOs). The NHS has four integrated levels that offer both curative and preventative services, including maternity and child health. Unfortunately, due to lack of investment and a shortage of healthcare workers, the quality of local public healthcare is probably not the expected standard.
Medical care is also quite expensive. Even when medical insurance and private health insurance is definitely recommended, some cash upfront payment will be expected. Many expats therefore chose to travel across the border into South Africa for more complex treatments and operations.
Education in Zimbabwe
Schools in Zimbabwe are either managed by the government, churches, mining companies, councils, trust boards, or privately. In the private sector, you can expect fees of around USD$15,000 per annum, with most international schools found in the capital city, Harare.
The Zimbabwe education system includes seven years at primary level, six years at secondary school and then entry into university or college. Children are usually enrolled in primary school at the age of 6. They then proceed to secondary school around the age of 13. At primary school, education encompasses 13 subjects and national exams takes place at the end of Grade 7 in six subjects which are inclusive of Maths, English, Shona, Heritage Studies among others. At secondary school students take two examinations, the Ordinary Level (O Level) at age 16 and the Advanced Level (A Level) at age 18 all encompassed under the ‘New Curriculum’. Many students will then enroll at one of Zimbabwe’s seven universities for their four, five or seven year degree programme.