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25/09/2016

Woman only driving school in Zimbabwe has brilliant safety rate

news24.co.za - Harare - Forget the 'Learn to Drive With Jesus Driving School' in novelist Alexander McCall Smith's fictional Botswana.

Zimbabwe has a dedicated driving school for women - and its founder says none of its clients has ever had a "serious" road accident.

Some of the Tamiranashe (which means 'we have stood with God' in Shona) Women's College graduates are 80 years old, the state-owned Chronicle newspaper reported this weekend.

This driving school, in Harare's outlying town of Norton, may be the answer to a recent controversial call for all drivers in Zimbabwe to re-sit their licence tests.

Five people die in accidents on the country's roads each day, according to police figures from last year. The country has a population of 13 million.

Highly disciplined divers

Eight people were killed in a crash on the Bulawayo to Harare highway, last week. That accident was apparently caused by a burst tyre.

The college's founder, Nancy Mbaura, knows something about working extremely hard to get her licence. According to the Chronicle, she only passed hers on her eighth attempt.

That experience gave Mbaura a dream: to see more women becoming "well-groomed and highly disciplined drivers who are not a danger on the roads".

The college has been running for five years.

"We keep records of those who would have eventually obtained a driver's licence," Mbaura, 40, was quoted as saying.

"In our records so far, we do not have a driver reported to have been involved in a serious road accident."

International best practices

The Zimbabwe Statistics Agency said earlier this year that "widespread disregard for [traffic] rules" plus "lack of competency by motorists" was fuelling the country's terrifying road death rate, the Herald newspaper reported in April.

It was regularly alleged that it was possible to buy (or bribe one's way into getting) a drivers' licence. The Herald said the proposed re-sits would be "in line with international best practices".

The Tamiranashe Women's College offers driving lessons for $5 a time, according to the Chronicle. That is cheaper than other driving schools, which sometimes charge up to $10 per lesson.

The school is now so successful that it's even opened its (car) doors to men.

*Learn to Drive with Jesus was the suggestion given for the name of a driving school in best-selling novelist Alexander McCall Smith's book, The Kalahari Typing School for Men.



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