I remember him well, he was the city councillor for our ward in Mbare. He had a keen sense of justice and helped our J & P group in settling disputes. During the violent disturbances of 2008 he was badly beaten: his leg was broken and he had a head injury, spending weeks in hospital. A year later he died when he was run over by an army truck. On Saturday, we celebrated a Memorial Mass for him. Then the family went home for a meal. A group of 13 young men came uninvited, shouting slogans and accusing the family of holding a party meeting. Violence ensued and two men were injured, needing hospital treatment. I complained about the matter to a party official who in turn told me about another violent incident involving supporters of the other party. I promised we would visit the victim, an old lady, in the hospital. The alleged perpetrators were arrested, I was told.

Of those 13 who harassed that family no one has been detained. I was assured by the official that his party did not support violence. Indeed, posters announce “NO to violence”. Somebody must have lost control. People walk at night in fear of gangs of youngsters threatening and intimidating passers-by.

Unemployment is still rampant. Charitable handouts are not the answer on the long run. Many manage to create “self-jobs” (self-employment) for themselves. Our parish [St. Peter’s] tries to help others still seeking a way to get busy with their hands and earn a living, rendering a useful service to the community. I hope the women will be able to start a sewing cooperative. The Catholic Development Commission (CADEC) will give us sewing machines. I would be very happy if they could make school uniforms, offering them cheaper than shops in town, thus helping poor parents and children. The men want to do carpentry. Cheap coffins are in great demand. A musical band wants to go professional if they can get the instruments. Poultry keeping is very popular among the “stay-at-homes” while a group of lively young women want to go “cross-border” as traders. And young parents want to start a housing cooperative, probably the most difficult project. As far as I am concerned, they can try anything as long as they don’t sit there miserably, saying “there is nothing we can do”.

This report is reprinted from IN TOUCH WITH CHURCH AND FAITH #162, a Jescom publication.