HomeOpinion & AnalysisColumnistsMore action, less talk on tsikamutandas

More action, less talk on tsikamutandas

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More than a year after the government issued a statement outlawing the operations of witch-hunters known as tsikamutandas, these people continue to cause havoc in rural areas, with their acts seemingly going unchecked.

What the government should have done following the Cabinet statement, which was bizarre in its own right, was to pass a very tough law for anyone found practising witch-hunting.

As it is, they continue operating using loopholes in the law, which give them the carte blanche to continue robbing poor and desperate people in rural areas.

Most witch-hunters have been proven to be consummate frauds after a quick buck.

Their predictable modus operandi is identifying elderly people, mainly women living alone, and accuse them of practising witchcraft.

They often demand extortionate payment, mainly cattle and other domesticated animals, with little or no mercy for their victims, who do not want to be accused of witchcraft.

In most rural areas, being accused of witchcraft is often as good as being declared a prohibited person in the community and pushed to the fringes of society and, the elderly, in an effort to avoid such a fate, often agree to the activities of these thugs and in the process they lose valuables.

There is need for authorities to cascade the message to the grassroots, particularly chiefs and headmen, that witch-hunting is illegal.

This should be accompanied by a law that prohibits the exercise and also the traditional leaders, who allow such thuggery in their communities should be charged.

The government should hold awareness campaigns for traditional leaders, where the message should be that witch-hunting is illegal and a chargeable offence.

This will help as traditional leaders will bar these charlatans from their areas and cut their source of funding and wealth.

More often than note, issues that affect the rural poor are not cascaded to the grassroots and just remain as Press statements, which have no real meaning in some areas, which are on the periphery and hardly have access to news.

Tsikamutandas may be discussed in Parliament, but this alone is not enough, as there is need for a communication strategy that makes this information available to even the remotest areas in the country.

As Vice-President Emmerson Mnangagwa noted in Parliament earlier this week, there is need for the Home Affairs ministry to ensure that the police arrest all witch-hunters, but at the same time there is need for the Rural Development ministry to capacitate rural communities and traditional leaders with information and ensure that this practice is brought to an end.

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