San community cry exploitation Zimbabwe Human Rights Commissioner Petunia Chiriseri addresses the San community at Makulela Primary School in Bulilima District. (Picture by Eliah Saushoma)

Nqobile Tshili, Chronicle Reporter

The San community has claimed that they are being exploited and used as cheap labour by other communities surrounding them whose members also impregnate their children and refuse to take responsibility. 

The community is found on the outskirts of Bulilima District, Matabeleland South and Tsholotsho District in Matabeleland North.

They were speaking during a Zimbabwe Human Rights Commission access to documentation mop up exercise hearings at Makulela Primary School, Bulilima District on Wednesday.

ZHRC commissioners had visited the community in trying to understand how access to documentation was affecting them as a minority group. A member of the San community Mr Ashet Moyo said poverty was their main problem.

“The reason why most of us don’t have access to national documents is because we are extremely poor. We don’t have anything and we have to work menial jobs for our day to day lives. We are employed as herd boys and maids. 

‘‘We don’t even have anyone from our community working as a bus conductor, which shows how serious our problems are. We don’t even have relatives in towns. There is hardly anyone of us who has gone through to Form Four let alone Form Six,” said Mr Moyo. 

“We came out for this meeting in our best clothes but you can judge for yourself what we are wearing. So, our priority is to get food which we hardly have. We don’t have money to go to Plumtree Town to apply for those birth certificates as you have seen that most of us don’t have them. As a result of our peculiar challenges we are sometimes referred to Bulawayo. We don’t even know anyone there. Even koMsitheli (where the Bulawayo’s Registrar General’s Office is housed) we have no idea where they are located.” Another participant Mr George Moyo, who is part of Twai Twai San Community Development Association said their poverty was also contributing to their discrimination.

“We are being abused, underpaid because it’s known fact that we are poor. Maybe to assist our community to access national documents I will recommend that one of us be seconded to the Registrar’s Office. That person will understand our people and they will also be confident to answer all questions posed to them. That will go a long way in addressing some of the issues of non-documentation of our members,” said Mr Moyo.

Another villager Mr Robson Vundla said their biggest problem is lack of education which increases their vulnerability. The area’s village head Ms Mutjena Ncube said due to their poverty some of their children are sexually exploited by members of the surrounding communities.

Another female contributor said due to their lack of education, it was difficult for them to respond to questions posed by officials at the Registrar’s General Office resulting in most of them giving up on trying to access national documents. They also revealed that due to their lack of documentation they could not access some of the Government safety nets programmes extended to communities.

ZHRC chairperson Dr Elasto Mugwadi said their visit to the San community was an eye opener and they learnt more than what they expected.

“We thought we were only going to deal with the issue of access to documentation. But we also got involved in the issues of their general welfare. We believe the process of integration has been very slow. And what they need is basic knowledge and if Government could attach people who can be taking them through the processes of settling down to farming,” said Dr Mugwadi.

“The rules that apply generally on registration for both IDs and birth certificates are too stringent for this group. I believe they should be relaxed for the marginalised communities like the San people.”

He said he was shocked by their poverty saying Government should take affirmative action to lift them up. – @nqotshili

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