Gogo Verina Manhenga sits gapping at the window that faces the gate of her four roomed core house.
By Silence Charumbira
She can see the rains pounding the streets but cannot feel anything.
Even the noise made by her wailing great grandchildren in the next room does not seem to reach her.
She looks there, mind so distant as if expecting something yet her reality tells the story of no miracle happening soon.
The incessant rains this week may mean she and her 10 grandchildren and great grandchildren and one daughter will go for days without food.
This time the gods have smiled on them because they have gotten well-wishers who have managed to donate food stuffs that will last for about a week.
But that they cannot spare a penny to pay for their prepaid electricity is a stubborn reality that eats her as she looks at her huge family. Her thin and frail body can no longer work and she has to rely on Tafadzwa, her 19 year old grandson.
Tafadzwa is an orphan, together with six siblings and cousins who all lost their parents and were left in the care of Gogo Manhenga.
The whole family of 12 relies on Tafadzwa to go out digging in people’s fields in this rainy season where he gets $5 for two days work.
“If I manage to get some part time work in the fields I get $5 but that only lasts a day because it has to feed 12 people” says Tafadzwa.
“However jobs are scarce and sometimes I have to work as a tout at the rank where I will get anything around $1 per day.
When I come home, on a fortunate day I find maybe someone has also managed to get $0.50 and we buy whatever we can with it for the family.
“I am always looking for a job but it has not been easy. Right now, I am ready to do anything. At first, I was just looking for money to go back to school so that at least I write my ordinary level examinations but what is important for me now is that the family survives.”
Gogo Manhenga has tried to approach social welfare offices but that has not helped. Periodically, the family gets well-wishers but due to the biting economic situation in the country that too seems to be diminishing.
Tafadzwa says his heart breaks on looking at his bright little sister Melody who was once at Waddilove High School in Marondera where a church mate has been paying her school fees.
“I hoped she would be able to finish her ordinary level but the good woman who has been paying her school fees now has to pay fees for her own kids. The burden has become heavier for her and Melody had to stop going to school this term,” he said.
Just this week, it was another hunger spell as they had gone for three days without food but were rescued by Barbara Nyagomo, a United Kingdom based humanitarian and politician who got hold of MDC-T member Job Sikhala and managed to purchase 20kgs mealie meal and two litres of cooking oil.
“We are very grateful to Aunt Barbara and Sikhala and a number of people that have come to our rescue this week. I certainly hope it will bring relief to the family,” said Tafadzwa.
“What I now long for is a job so that at least I can sustain a decent living for the family.” Nyagomo plans to launch her political party Progressive Democrats of Zimbabwe soon.
She said from her United Kingdom base that the Manhenga family situation resembles that of many Zimbabwean families that have been reduced to beggars.
“The problems in our motherland are man-made. They are a result of institutionalised and well-orchestrated corruption,”she said.
“Those in government are much worried about personal aggrandisement and protecting their loot while ignoring the people’s needs. We need a new political culture of serving people. We need office bearers who are accountable to the people. Those in position of power must serve and respect the electorate not vice versa.”
They reside at house number 28 Hombarume Street Zengeza 1. The house is owned by Gogo Manhenga but she says she has not paid her monthly bills to council for several months. Nyagomo said she is working on providing resources for the family to start a self-sustainable project while she will soon be providing school fees for the drop outs to go back to school.