MWENEZI- Scores of desperate people from rural communities in the southern parts of the country are defying the lockdown by flocking to the forests of Gwanda district to harvest mopani worms, TellZim can report
People from Lutumba in Beitbridge as well as some parts of Mberengwa, Chikombedzi, Mwenezi, West Nicolson and Gwanda district find their way into the forests in search of the treasured worms despite the national lockdown which has since been extended twice.
Private transport operators use illicit dusty tracks to ferry the worm hunters and avoid the obvious routes for fear of police roadblocks, sources say.
“We go to Gwanda between every December and April to harvest madora and this year should not be different. If we are to think about the lockdown, how do we survive?
“They have extended to lockdown without giving as social grants so we cannot help it. You can’t expect us to remain indoors hoping that someone will bring us some food to eat,” said one woman who had just returned from one of her numerous Gwanda trips.
Other sources said the deployment of police and soldiers to stop unsanctioned movement in the areas was not helping much.
“There are many people who are working all the time in the forests of Gwanda. Some go as traders selling food and drinks to the worm catchers so there is a lot of activity in the bush. Our main problem is that water is scarce and we often drink from unprotected sources,” said the source.
With a bucket full of Mopani worms now trading between 350 to 500 South African rands, the Mopani catchers say they cannot let go of their only opportunity to make money in a troubled economy.