Kubatana.net ~ an online community of Zimbabwean activists

Archive for July, 2007

Shuffling around the shop

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Thursday, July 19th, 2007 by Bev Clark

A Kubatana subscriber shares her experience . . .

Yesterday I was shopping on behalf of some ambuya’s (grannies) at a Spar that does a discount for pensioners on a Wednesday. A few round loaves of bread were available, a lot of the items allowed two per customer, there were about forty little packs of chicken pieces and a few dozen frozen chickens. No meat. No fresh milk. Mazoe orange juice arrived from the back of the shop and there was a stampede with people grabbing as many as they could (only one per customer?). A crowd of rather poor and ragged women had gathered outside the shop – nobody knew why? They were chased away by guards, but I then discovered that they were asking shoppers to help them buy a loaf of bread. I watched some old people shuffling around the shop with a few $10,000 notes scrunched up in their hands, a vacant look of disbelief on their faces. Each day there is less in the shops, each day people must be getting more desperate to survive. Each day and night hundreds of thousands cross the borders in search of some food and security.

Grey Clouds

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Thursday, July 19th, 2007 by Bev Reeler

Walking the grey clouds
no black and white, good and bad

Everything is everything
fuel coupons are illegal
Pius Ncube in an adulterer
electricity cuts are increasing
cell phones cut off from the outside world
generators are without fuel

Everything is everything
no power in the mornings
no hot tea and BBC
no power at night living in candle light
fridges defrosting with the last precious food
no time on computers to connect with the world

We will survive but the things that people do . . .
gathering information / writing reports / bringing people together / food and fuel parents / feeding and healing / recording the stories
will this survive?

Walking grey clouds
no clear path.
Holding on to the ground
whilst learning to fly.

Everything is everything
I see God in everything
where people speak with sacred voice
we are everything
we have a choice at every step
with random acts of kindness
learning to fly

Boiled dry

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Thursday, July 19th, 2007 by Amanda Atwood

Thanks to the past few weeks of price controls, shop raids and shortages, things in Zimbabwe are finally looking the way maybe they “should” have been looking for the past several years. Surely, with inflation in the treble and quadruple digits, unemployment at over 80%, a life expectancy that crashed from over 60 years to around 35 years, the veneer of normalcy that a tour through selected parts of Harare can yield needs to be smashed.

But Zimbabweans have shown an incredible resiliency through farm invasions, Operation Murambatsvina, currency reforms, and a host of other plagues the past seven years. Thanks to creativity, initiative, remittances, foreign aid, cross border trading and the black market, people have managed to get by.

And in a way, I suspect its this very make-a-planness that is driving this government crazy. Zanu PF might be the country’s liberation party, but it doesn’t want to govern a liberated people. It wants to govern a people dependent on it, reliant on its patronage, its good will, its whims for its survival. Urban residents and vendors exercising a bit too much initiative? Then launch Operation Murambatsvina to destroy their homes and take away their livelihoods. Hungry Zimbabweans thinking for themselves and going to Botswana, Zambia, Mozambique or South Africa to do a bit of grocery shopping in the face of price controls and shortages? Then ban the importation of foodstuffs and household items without a permit, compromising the futures of cross border traders, their families, and the families that depend on their imports.

The frog in a boiling pot metaphor is beyond cliched in Zimbabwe. But this government doesn’t seem content with merely turning up the heat. It wants Zimbabweans boiled dry. Even if that means there’s no juicy bits left for us, or them.

Can Do folk

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Friday, July 13th, 2007 by Brenda Burrell

Don’t you love them? People who cope with adversity through innovation and an unfailing sense of humour. I was sitting in a favourite cafe this morning, delighted that they are still able to serve up a world class cappuccino alongside a delicious stack of pancakes – with syrup – in spite of the shortages, price controls and regular power and water cuts.

At the table next to me, two Can Do blokes were talking to a long suffering colleague on their mobile phone. “Boet”, on the other end of the line, was clearly struggling to keep a fleet of vehicles alive on some remote farm in Zimbabwe. As they pulled his leg about “slacking” and “wasting time” they also reassured him that they were looking for “gennies”* and grease nipples and alternators and were making plans regarding how they could “save the seal on the 49″ and “get the 47 back on the job”.

Compare this to the Can Do attitude of Zimbabwe’s government. They Can make countless promises and break them countless times.

They Can take your property, business, passport, life, future and give you nothing in return. They Can make and break the law as they please.

Well, the bottom line is we Can outlast this government and we will Do it.

* generators

Zimbabweans speak out

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Thursday, July 12th, 2007 by Bev Clark

Recently we asked Kubatana subscribers to send us some comments on the issues of price controls and service provision in Zimbabwe. We thought you might like to read some of the word out there on the street.

At this point I have had it with everything in this lovely country. Some sanity needs to be restored, what are you going to do with ten jars of Vaseline, 20 bags of chicken pieces. You don’t have power to operate your fridge because surely as the sun sets you will not have power at home to keep your chicken pieces frozen for at least one day if not more. Or water to wash out the stinking freezer. Despite all this madness I am still here, where can I go? I have decided that I will take it one day at a time because this madness must end at some time. In the mean time I have been reduced to a vegan. I hope there will be water and power so that we can try to have some tea during the course of the week. How do I work when there is not power for three full days? I need to survive and pay my bills. The cherry on top of the cake is the rotten unscrupulous landlords who have all decided that rentals in Harare must be based on the US$. 75% of the nation does not even earn US$10.00. I am seething that people should become so selfish and insensitive. But we all seem to have resigned to this unacceptable standard of living. – Miriam

I think price controls are good when the supply side of goods is maintained because sometimes shop owners raise prices of their goods to such high levels that you cannot believe. How can a pair of trousers cost $2 million when the salary of that employee who works in the shop earns $1.5 million. – Clifford

I happen to live in Highlands, regarded as one of the posh places, where we bought a small house in 1979, now I have had 6 weeks of no water but with our neighbours having it. This is the life here. I have made 6 reports and no one has repaired anything. I only survive on begging water from church, neighbours, and sometimes carrying tins from work. Honestly if we fail to have cholera this year we are very lucky. – Liz

I am one of the residents residing in Hatcliffe. The location sometimes goes for two weeks without water and in some areas, they go for a month without water. I don’t want to mention names, but I am part of the victims who get water only once a month. At the end of the month the City of Harare and ZINWA charges are too high. We are buying water for $5000 for a 5 litre container of water from neighbouring schools and farms owned by war vets. The coverage of our area by the public media is biased. Not even a single day has the Herald and ZBC mentioned or reported on the water woes being experienced by the masses in Hatcliffe. When it comes to ZESA its now a daily routine that we wake up without electricity and that everyday around 6 to 9pm we are in darkness. Who is going to come to our rescue? – Patrick

Munyayi asvika pavatezvara kunoroora, making introductions: ava ndibabamunini, ava sekuru, uyu mupurisa watauya naye we price control! – Tatenda

I would like to congratulate you for doing a great job. Saying the truth and fighting the oppressors who will do anything it takes to remain in power. Shop managers in Harare are being haunted by the CIO. A branch manager of a large retail shop in the CBD was beaten (kuitwa kafira mberi chaiko). I wonder if this has anything to do with price control. A friend of mine who works in Borrowdale was abducted at gun point by the CIO but he managed to escape. He is living in fear coz he was promised kuti unorisiya sadza. Workers are not shop owners. Please let the whole world know. We are living in fear. – Grace

Community building

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Tuesday, July 10th, 2007 by Bev Clark

Just recently a friend gave me a copy of the book, from ACT UP to the WTO (urban protest and community building in the era of globalisation). Here’s an excerpt which I’ve contextualised a bit for Zimbabwe, and which I think gives a lot of food for thought amidst the challenges we’re all facing. Now, more than ever, is the time for community building. Consider adding other suggestions, sharing them with friends, family and colleagues – and, of course, putting them into action.

Turn off your TV. Leave your house. Know your neighbours. Look up when you’re walking. Greet people. Plant flowers. Plant trees. Use your library. Buy from local vendors. Share what you have. Help a lost dog. Support your suburb’s schools. Fix it even if you didn’t break it. Pick up litter. Talk to the postman. Get to know the people who remove your rubbish. Listen to the birds. Help carry something heavy. Give lifts. Ask a question. Hire young people from your suburb for odd jobs. Ask for help when you need it. Look out for each other. Share your skills. Drive slowly and respectfully. Turn up the music. Turn down the music. Listen before you react to anger. Mediate a conflict. Seek to understand. Learn from new and uncomfortable angles. Know that no one is silent though many are unheard: work to change this.