Or Just a Patsy?

As droughts began trolling Zimbabwe in the 1980s and early 90s, the late President of the country, Robert G. Mugabe was enticed to take up genetically modified foods, as the only panacea to end hunger for good.

But as the stubbornly Bob, declined the offer of ending hunger that way, l began interested to find out why he is refusing? The Internet by that time was a western dream, and Google was still unknown to the periphery. As someone who admired old Bob’ s english articulation and his political mastery and acumen; l quickly supported his declination. According to my world, Bob was always right.

When the ‘ KAMBUCHA’ drink was first red flagged by the Masvingo City personnel as an intoxicant . The city fathers banned its consumption at the workplace as the last resort, as they noticed wayward behaviours by its workers after taking one or two of it.

My workmates in Gutu, tried their best to lure me to try the drink as it contains some medicinal values. I frankly told them, that which manufacturer has done that before, selling to you a drink which relieves all your pains? And they laughed at my conservative mindset which only trusts Delta and Schweppes beverages. As most Zimbabweans suffer from phobic neurosis of being left out.

 Most of my friends have quickly embraced the green bottle and leaving me attached to Black Label. Zimbabweans want to associate or experiment with anything new. From ‘ Mapotato emu saga, to Zvihuta, now Nurse Aiding ( Care Workers). I like that entrepreneurship flavour because ‘ hauzive chakakodza nguruve’). You only live once and never come back, so try every avenue.

In 2009, when the country embraced the multi- currency use of money, to boost our moribund economy as the country was experiencing a severe shortages of basics and a crumbling Zimbabwe dollar.

That was when we first noticed our supermarkets beaming with all sorts of groceries once again , coming mainly from South Africa. The so- called unwanted foods grown and raised in an improper way finally found their way into the country. 5 and 10 kgs of frozen chickens were a treat, as hungry Zimbos bought them to fill their tummies. Guidelines of checking whether the genetically modifieds were coming in was ignored or temporarily lifted.

As our economy and livelihoods began to improve, Zimbabweans with an entrepreneurship mindset also began to venture into manufacturing, some became importers of cheap products.  All types of drinks and foods began to fill our supermarket shelves.

Competition was rife, necessitating cheap affordable goods. Dollar for two, became the war cry. But in the midst of that hullabaloo, nobody was now paying attention to the quality and healthy of the foodstuffs. The Consumer Council of Zimbabwe which used to be a watchdog of prices, sale of expiry goods et cetera, also became ineffective.

Some new names in the retail business, are culprits in stocking suspect groceries. Their choice of stocks, do not have clear labels, or what constitute the ingredients of what they are selling, the physical address of the supplier is usually missing.

That means the end-user can not find compensation if s/he falls sick after consuming the product.

The challenge right now in our country, everyone is making hay whilst the sun shines. From the brewers of ‘ Mutoriro’ ( an illicit drink that has damaged the young generation); to other specific others that dominate our retail outlets.

 In the United States, they have the Food and Drug Administration ( a federal agency in the Department of Health and Human Services established to regulate the release of new foods and health- related products; FDA). And how many new foods and drugs we notice in our stores and pharmacies around the country?

And who is regulating them? Do you mean Zimbabwe does not have such a department? And if it has, can someone come to our rescue and tell us if it still on course or under administration.  I heard that ,  the Zimbabwe’s Ministry of Health is said to be investigating’ Kambucha’ s ingredients?

If Masvingo City fathers and other anonymous clever blacks did not make noise, was Kambucha’ going to be on the ‘ wanted list?. And how many other ‘ Kambuchas’ are in our retail and pharmaceutical chain supply? Cancers are rising in Zimbabwe, and l always tell my friends that the foods we eat are responsible.

 If we can be health conscious like members of the Seventh Day Adventist and Jehovah’s Witness, we can have prosperous lifestyles and move away from doctors. I am not saying people must forever avoid Drs Makurira, Masinire or Mazorodze, we still need their guidance. We expect the responsible authority to make noise first, instead of waiting for ‘ vana Munhangu’ to be whistle blowers.

 So ‘ Kambucha’ is not walking alone, along this journey, it is just a patsy. Doors have been opened for further investigations as Zimbabwe has become a dumping ground of cheap and toxic commodities.

We need healthy generations of Zimbabweans to eat foods that do not short- change them; that is if the responsible authority/ies monitor/s what we consume.

Aaron Gono.

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