Zimbabwe: Zim Priests Turn to Money 'Rounds', Gardening to Survive Economic Hardship

11 November 2019

Zimbabwean members of the clergy have resorted to exchanging micro finance 'rounds' among themselves in desperate attempts to survive the current economic difficulties.

This was revealed by Reverend Lancelot Mukundu, who is United Methodist Church (UMC) Nyandire Mission station chair in Mutoko.

Mukundu said pastors in Zimbabwe were looking for new opportunities to survive the current economic challenges. He said members of the clergy have not been spared by the crisis.

"The majority of pastors are still struggling to sustain themselves when they get time," Rev Mukundu said.

"Some pastors have established microfinance 'money rounds' to start income generating projects.

"They make up groups of between six and 12, where they give some substantial amount of money per month and then monitor what the individual has done with their round," he said.

'Rounds', as they are often referred to in ordinary language, are money lending schemes mutually entered into, among groups of more than two people to help every group member with quick soft loans in a case. Each member has his or her turn to receive money from the other group members.

Other pastors, said Mukundu, have ventured into vegetable market gardening.

"The backyard garden has been the mainstay where people grow green vegetables and supply the local markets that are selling within the community, but the majority of the pastors are still struggling to sustain themselves.

"Those who were fortunate like me to get land through the land reform programme have embarked on land utilisation for commercial farming activities," said Rev Mukundu.

Sydney Mapisunga, Murewa UMC school's deputy head, said UMC schools in the district were stocking up on dried food before prices rise to manage student meals.

"We are not purchasing some products since we have the capacity to produce our own pork, cabbage, onion and chicken," he said.

Bertha Katiyo, vice chair of UMC Women, said women church members were being trained to empower themselves through self-help projects.

"Our aim is to create economic freedom, to raise the esteem of our women and make them less dependent on their spouses and even donor support. We have started making cleaning detergents, soap and petroleum jelly," she said.

Rev Alan Gurupira said UMC were encouraging members to work hard and produce more despite the economic hardships.

"Pastors are being called upon to preach sermons of hope such that members look into the future with a positive attitude," Rev Gurupira said.

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