WATCHING 23 cattle dying due to lack of water and pastures is a misfortune one would never want to encounter.
But such is the horrific experience of Kufuse Mazviure (62) from Matiko Village under headman Mahachi in Checheche, Chipinge whose herd of cattle was wiped out in three months due to drought.
The only thing he managed to salvage from the dying livestock were the hides.
Mazviure’s misfortune is just a tip of the iceberg as hundreds of other families in Chipinge South have lost their cattle to drought, while others have been forced to sell their livestock for a song.
A single beast was last week being sold for as little as $30 compared to the average of $400 during the same period last year.
Gogo Mazviure, wife to Kufuse, told The Standard last week that her husband was too distraught to grant an interview to the news crew.
He is now sick and suffering from depression due to the loss of the family’s prized livestock.
Cattle is regarded as a source of power and wealth in most rural areas and their loss could result in one losing influence and respect of the local community.
“The kraal you see here was full of cattle but they started dying and there was nothing we could do because there is no water and pastures. We had 28 cattle but we met our fate in August and from that month to December, 23 of the beasts died,” she said.
“It is difficult to explain how we have lost our cattle. The only thing we managed to salvage are the skin hides. We are now surviving on selling vegetables, but people are not buying because they have no money.”
Her son Liason Mambiri (34) said it was double tragedy as he has not been paid by his employer — Green Fuel — for some time, making it difficult to provide for the distraught family.
Mambiri said his numerous young siblings had since dropped out of school.
“From August last year to January this year, we did not have any rains. It only rained once but we don’t believe that this is going to save the situation,’’ he said.
“Twenty-eight children from this family were going to school, seven of them at secondary level and the rest primary level.
“They are no longer going to school because the priority now is putting food on the table as we are afraid of ending up dying from starvation.”
Mambiri added: “The situation has been worsened because of non-payment of wages at Green Fuel. Whenever we want to go on strike management calls anti-riot police to quash the demonstrations. We are working so that we are not fired but we are not getting anything.’’
Other villagers, who are also losing their livestock to the drought, said they were denied access to inputs distributed under a scheme initiated by President Robert Mugabe.
Others said the few villagers who benefitted from the scheme sold the inputs to survive.
Kenneth Nyakorwa from Mutondo Village, said they had resorted to selling the presidential inputs.
He said some villagers were not happy as government gave them cotton seed in January this year instead of August last year.
“Our cattle are dying every day because of lack of water and pastures. We are failing to survive and we are now selling the presidential inputs for survival.
“There are some people who are taking advantage of our situation. There are businesspeople who are offering us $40 or $30 for our dying cattle,’’ he said.
“If they had offered $80 or even $100, it would be fine.
“We do not have an option but to sell the livestock as they will die if we continue to keep them here.
“Local leaders are abusing the presidential inputs as they are sharing them unequally. The other issue is that we were given cotton seed in January instead of August, so we had to sell it, we had no option.’’
Elijah Sithole from Manzvire area near Checheche growth point urged government to intervene to save the farmers.
Zanu PF Chipinge South MP Enock Porusingazi said government should help the villagers to destock.
“Yes, there is a severe drought here in Chipinge as there is no water and pastures for our livestock,” he said.
“We have donkeys, goats, cattle, among other livestock that are struggling.
“Cattle have been the worst affected. We are urging the government to help the villagers to destock and put the few remaining cattle in areas where there is no drought and help us to re-stock the cattle when the situation gets better.
“Many families have lost their cattle and the situation is very sad indeed.
“We feel for the people but with our government, we don’t think anyone will die. President Robert Mugabe will not let that happen.”
Porusingazi said the situation was hopeless for most villagers.
“We don’t blame anyone for the drought, but the government should help. Already, the state is offering supplementary food for the cattle, which is going for $8 for 50kg, but most villagers cannot afford this ,’’ he said.
The legislator added that the government should, at least for now, stop distributing inputs and instead bring food relief to hungry villagers.