By Citizen Journalists/The Sun Reporter
A Gweru based women’s group that specializes in grass cutting activities for thatching purposes is crying foul over some unscrupulous members of the society who stand accused of sabotaging their income-making activities.
Old Ascot Kushinga thatching group alleges that some saboteurs are targeting their processed grass while some unscrupulous members of the society stand accused of initiating veld fires which form the basis of their livelihoods.
“Look my son, it’s like we are under a deliberate attack from some jealous individuals. Ever since we started our cooperative in around 2006 it has been problems after problems. At first, it was city council officials who used to say what we are doing is illegal and would charge us a dollar a day. It then took the intervention of the Environmental Management Agency (EMA) for us to start operating without hustles.
Now that we are getting business from established business people from around the city and beyond, it seems jealousy is creeping or someone wants to take over our enterprise. Firstly, we used to get grass along the road just nearby but we have been hit by veld fires. As if that was not enough, of late some people deliberately torched our processed grass we fetched from some faraway places. Could this just be a coincidence? Something must be fishy,” said Mrs. Beatrice Matendi who is Chairperson of Old Ascot Kushinga thatching grass cooperative.
The cooperative now boasts of 31 members mostly drawn from Ascot, who occasionally get some assistance from their family members.
The enterprise has supported many households to deal with financial issues.
“Most people here are widows and single mothers. We sell our grass for a dollar per three but we are open to negotiating if one intends to buy in bulk. I am lucky my husband is still alive but his income is not enough for the family. I managed to send my children to university through the money I am getting from this project. There are many like me. I also chip in with water bills when my husband can’t afford such. I don’t even ask for money for groceries since my husband is a mere civil servant,” said Mrs Matendi.
Gogo Masiziba (60) is one of the pioneers of the group.
She speaks of some of the achievements accrued since they started.
“My son, my husband died back then when I was not employed. We then sat down and came up with this initiative. I am well known around here and have managed to earn trust from authorities. I take care of my three grandchildren who attend a local primary school over there. The headmaster knows me and my works so sometimes even if I don’t have fees I simply give him my word and he knows the money will come so my grandchildren are not expelled from the school as a result.”
The project has also been identified to be helpful in preserving the environment through the reduction of biomass which acts as a catalyst for fire during the fire season.
In the face of the fire season, EMA has seen it fit to partner the grouping through the provision of grass-cutting equipment in a bid to preserve the environment.
EMA commended the team for coming up with the initiative saying the environment is much safer with such activities.
“It’s about time people start understanding the importance of preserving the environment through various ways. As you might be aware, biomass increases the intensity of the fire in case a fire breaks out. The cutting of the grass, therefore, reduces biomass. We would like to urge communities to practice such initiatives as it also helps them in their wellbeing,” said EMA’s Midlands provincial spokesperson Mr. Oswald Ndlovu.
Year in and year out, human and wildlife lose their lives in numbers with the environment under siege as a result of veldt fires amid calls for more mitigatory measures against the spread of such fires. Supported by #Women In News