Herbalists defy MCAZ ban and continue selling potions Assistant Commissioner Paul Nyathi

Michelle Moyo, [email protected] 

DESPITE the Medicines Control Authority of Zimbabwe’s (MCAZ) directive to cease sales two weeks ago, the resilient herbalists of Bulawayo remain undeterred. 

Renowned for their bold claims of remedies for ailments ranging from hypertension to supernatural afflictions, these traditional practitioners  have made a comeback. Their presence continues to draw a dedicated clientele, convinced of the efficacy of their natural concoctions.

MCAZ has expressed concern about the increased advertising of medicines, especially on social media platforms  such as Facebook, WhatsApp, and  X (formerly Twitter). MCAZ spokesperson Anderson Kaiyo said the banned herbs are not regulated and may pose serious health risks to the public. He added that people who defy the ban risk a heavy fine or imprisonment.

National Police spokesperson Assistant  Commissioner Paul Nyathi said police will raid and arrest people who sell herbs and medicines illegally. 

THE Child President Neville Mavu has called on parents and caregivers to safeguard children especially from harmful practices and influences, especially during the festive season often associated with merry-making.

Assistant Commissioner Paul Nyathi

“As the police we conduct joint operations  with Medicines Control Authority of Zimbabwe who guide us especially when there are issues of concern. Herbalists have to be regulated or they risk being raided by the police,” he said. 

But  the herbalists are not deterred. They say that their herbals are natural, safe and effective. One of them is Grace, who has been processing herbals for 20 years. 

“I started manufacturing herbals such as aphrodisiac root (muremberembe) which is crushed mixed with hot water –cleaning the system. Mutanda ngozi is another herb for protection from witchcraft and sorcery, the roots of the plant is protective properties also used to cure wounds  and chronic diseases.

“The  use of traditional medicines has been associated with witchcraft and traditional health practitioners have been labelled as witch-doctors. This negative stereotype of the traditional health system dates back to the colonial times when European missionaries introduced the western health care system. People were no longer confident in their own traditional health care system because of the stigma that had been attached to its use. I also sell tamarind for the reduction of high blood pressure, diarrhoea, and constipation and for wound healing,” she said.

Image taken from Gastro-stop

Grace  said that she has many loyal customers who come to buy her herbals regularly. She said that she does not fear the MCAZ because she knows that her herbals are harmless and helpful.

We also spoke to some of her customers, who shared their experiences with us. One of them, who  preferred to remain anonymous, said that she has been using herbs for health purposes since 2020 and has never faced obstacles of using them. 

“I used herbs for my medical condition especially hypertension regardless of taking my medical medicines, the high blood pressure was always high. The herbs helped me a lot because when I started using  them my BP became normal to now.

“I have never faced the side effect of the herbs and they have even helped me with my metabolism and I believe in getting medical attention  if I am not feeling well,” she said. 

However, not everyone is convinced  by the herbalists and their potions. 

“As  a Christian, I only use medicine prescribed by a doctor for my health and I have never faced a challenge of using them.”

He said that he does not trust the herbalists and their claims, and he warned the public to be careful of what they consume.

Khulu David Mlilo, a traditional healer said it is difficult to regulate herbalists as most of them are operating individual.

“I actually noticed that there is a 

collective decision in usage of herbs as traditional is guided by idlozi lakibo, however traditional leaders should accept that they cannot treat all diseases for instance, I have actually adopted a medical machine to check for BP and diabetes.

“There are people who have died due to some traditional healers claiming to treat diseases like AIDS.”-@Lo7246Lovelyn

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