Accessing essential services such as education and health remains a pipe dream for Mtshatshane villagers in the Zenka area of Nkayi. Biting poverty and hopeless underdevelopment are sadly the hallmark of the area and there seem to be no solution in sight, at least for the foreseeable future.
Mtshatshane village is so geographically disadvantaged that the nearest clinic and secondary school namely, Zenka Clinic and Mpumelelo Secondary School are situated 11 km away from the village. The second closest secondary school, Hompane Secondary is 12 km away while Nkayi District Hospital is 14km away.
Residents are calling for urgent intervention from the local and central governments to help build schools and clinics within the vicinity. The right to education and the right to health care are non negotiable facets of Zimbabwe’s Constitution as stipulated in Sections 75 and 76 respectively.
Village Head of Mtshatshane, Racheal Ndlovu decried the status quo compounded by poor road networks and erratic mobile network connectivity in Nkayi. She stressed that life threatening situations that need urgent medical attention have often preceded unfortunate events due to death of nearby health care facilities.
“Mtshatshane Village is snake infested and it is not unusual for our people to suffer snake bites. You can imagine what happens when one is bitten by a venomous snake and has to travel 11 Km to the clinic. Illnesses have struck unexpectedly and claimed the scalps of several people before they got close to any medical facility. The very poor network coverage and such long distances that need to be negotiated for essential services are a recipe for disaster. One can imagine how many illnesses and injuries needlessly end up in death that could be avoided. Even if emergency services are introduced, they would have to use the bad roads to reach remote areas and this is not on,” said an unamused Ndlovu.
She also revealed that dropping out of school upon completion of primary education has become normal in Mtshatshane.
“Our primary school, Mtshatshane happens to be the only school within reach and most of the children manage to complete their primary education but the transition to secondary school is not possible because a child has to walk a total of 22 km per day, to and from school. If we cannot have a secondary school in this area, learners should at least be provided with transport. Alternatively, donations in form of bicycles per household could assist our children’s passage to secondary school,” she said.
One student from Mpumelelo Secondary School, Anna Aqualine Nkomo related her plight with regards accessing her school. “I am in Form Four this year and I have to concentrate on my studies but it’s not possible especially after walking the long distance to and from school. I leave home before 5 am only to get back home around at 8pm,” she said.
The nightmarish situation presents fertile ground for crime and unfortunate things to happen for girl children especially, who stand the risk of being abused as they return home under thick darkness.
Thamsanqa Sibanda, who dropped out of school in Grade 3 due to financial costraints and the distance factor coupled with inaccessibility of essential learning material owing to deep seated poverty in his family had this to say, “I left school at Grade 3 due to lack of funds and the difficulties I had in walking the long distance to school. Now, I can only work the land with my parents and help out at home with other chores but l do not want the same thing to happen to the next generation. I hope the Council can rectify this problem that has affected the area for donkey years.”
A disillusioned elderly villager, Mr Moffat Mpofu expressed hurt and dismay over the distance that has to be covered in order to access health services.
“It is a tall order for senior citizens like us who have to endure the tiring and unpleasant journey to the clinic. Sometimes we use Scotch carts to get to the clinic and for old men like us, its just too far considering that our bodies have seen better days hence the need regular visits and check ups. We just need a clinic in Mtshatshane that can assist us and save us the horribly long distance,” complained Mpofu.
There is however, a sense of guarded optimism in Mtshatshane that the village will one day have its own schools and clinics.Villagers hope that their local authority and central government will eventually come through for them.
Source: Community Podium