Dispatches from Zimbabwe

Here are a few scenes from Zimbabwe, stitched together form several posts by Cathy Buckle.  For all of those who support Hugo Chavez, and there are a surprising number in this country, this is exactly where Venezuela would be in a year if it wasn't for its oil.  And it may get there none-the-less (hat tip Q&O):

After three months of price controls the food situation in the country is
perilous and even those who were able to stock their pantries and cupboards are
now in trouble. In a main supermarket in my home town this week there was air
freshener, window cleaner, some vegetables, Indonesian toothpaste and imported
cornflakes from South Africa - one single packet costing more than half of a
teachers monthly salary.  There was also milk being sold from a bulk tank to
people who bring their own bottles and the queue went through the empty shop,
out the door and along the pavement. The line broke up suddenly before 10am when
the milk ran out and the huge shop was suddenly completely empty - nothing left
to sell, no more customers. This situation was a mirror image of conditions at
three other major supermarkets in the town and so we look desperately into
another week of struggle, praying for relief....

Milk is like gold in our town, as it is almost all over the country. When you
appreciate that the shops are empty and there is no food to buy, no protein, no
meat or eggs and now not even bread, you understand that people are desperate
for nourishment. A phone call to the local bulk dairy marketing outlet this week
went as follows:

Q: Hello, Do you have milk please?
A: Nothing.
Q: What about lacto (sour milk)?
A: Nothing.
Q: Any cheese?
A: (Bored) Nothing
Q: Ice Cream! ?
A: (Slightly annoyed) No, we have nothing. We are playing football in the car
park!
...

Standing outside over yet another smoky fire late one afternoon this week, a
Go-Away bird chastised me from a nearby tree. I'm sure this Grey Lourie is as
fed up of me intruding into its territory as I am of  being there - trying to
get a hot meal for supper. For five of the last six days the electricity has
gone off before 5 in the morning and only come back 16 or 17 hours later a
little before midnight. "Go Away! Go Away!" the Grey Lourie called out
repeatedly as my eyes streamed from the smoke and I stirred my little pot. My
hair and clothes stink of smoke, fingers are yellow and sooty but this is what
we've all been reduced to in Zimbabwe. Our government don't talk about the power
cuts anymore and don't even try and feed us with lame excuses about how the
power is being used to irrigate non-existent crops. We all know it's not true
and the proof is there in the empty fields for all to see.

Something else our government aren't talking about  anymore is the nationwide
non availability of bread and the  empty shops in all our towns and cities.
Everywhere you go people are struggling almost beyond description to try and
survive and yet the country's MP's, both from the ruling party and the
opposition, do nothing to put an end to this time of  horror. I have lost count
of how many weeks this has been going on for but it must be around three months.
None of the basics needed for daily survival are available to buy. There is no
flour to bake with, no pasta, rice, lentils, dried beans or canned goods. People
everywhere are hungry, not for luxuries like  biscuits or snack food but for the
staples  that fill your stomach. When you ask people nowadays how they are
coping, mostly they say that they are not, they say they are hungry, tired and
have little energy. This is a national crisis almost beyond description and
people say they are alive only because of " the hand of God."

  • Craig

    I've been thinking that, since European countries are no longer interested in self-defense, and instead are using our defense umbrella, they should take the responsibility to liberate some of these oppressed countries. France, you take Zimbabwe, and Germany can take Burma. If you need help, talk to Spain and Italy.

  • Max

    No, we once meddled in East Africa and we won't do it again (although they still like Kaiser Wilhelm there...). However, I am always fascinated how those people lament that their government doesn't work, but they don't seem to do something about it?!
    They not even think about going back to basic (farming etc.) or even emigrating. Perhaps that is a simplistic view of the situation, but what other chances do they have?
    Wait for government to solve their problems...

  • dearieme

    It's hard, Max, to go back to farming when the government might steal your land, your crops and your stock at any moment. Many do emigrate, many ending up as beggars and criminals in South Africa. The whole thing is just bloody.

  • Corky Boyd

    I used to read Cathy Buckle, but what she described so depressed me I had to stop. She must love her country.

    Max, there was a report in today's Daily Telegraph that several white farmers who have never been paid for their farms, and are in violation of the government edict to vacate their land by Sept 30, but are still doing intensive farming, will be physically removed. Their farms will be given to Mugabe's cronies, with the same disatrous results as elsewhere. What little free enteprise was left in Zimbabwe was destroyed when the government ordered the shanty town, where the locals conducted their business, destroyed. When the currrency was revalued and everyone had to exchange old for new (max allowable equivalent to US$300), those waiting in line were viciously attacked and robbed of thir money by government thugs.

    While the UN Human Rights folks fret about 8 rogue guards at Abu Graib, they ignore the plight of a country so criminally mismanaged.

    I wish Cathy would leave for her own safety and well being. I believe she still has UK citizenship. Read her weekly posts if you can, they will tell of the true horror of Mugabe's regime.