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Whose side are you on?

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Thursday, March 5th, 2009 by Godfrey Macheso

In as much as our education is concerned, it is derailed, demolished, dilapidated and finally decomposed into ashes. I am not talking about the ashes that remain behind after a fire has ceased, but I am talking about the ashes that are remaining after we are left education less.

Last week found me at college where I am studying for my BA Hons in African Languages and Culture. I had gone for payment of my 3rd year 1st semester fees since I am away from college for the whole year on industrial attachment. What I had to witness with my eyes left me wide mouthed as the telephone conversations I used to have with my friends there became reality. I attempted to get into one of these lectures so that I could have the necessary and on hand information and to my sight there were fifteen of us in the lecture room; the lecturer being the 16th member of the room. Having said a few notes on the module, a heavy knock descended on the door. My word, there was the man who is acting in the Office of the Registrar, Mr. Taguta, spectacles on and applying to himself a crocodile smile that even induced fear amongst students as they knew his obligation. Without reluctance in executing it, he ordered that those who had not paid their fees leave the room as it was not necessary for them to be at the college. I did not rise from the chair I had made myself comfortable in, watching him moving around and checking for receipts from everyone in the room.

It hurts me so much when certain Government directives are ignored only to the interest of a few people. The Ministry of Higher and Tertiary Education had directed that no one was to be sent from school on monetary grounds. That leaves me with the question in my heart and mind, on whose side are you? If you are for us then you have to respect whatever is our right, especially to education. To be fair and frank, there is actually no parent, even the elite ones, who can afford to pay US$1000 for a degree programme in a country with an unemployment rate of above 90%. Education to my belief is some form of investment but how can you invest where you are actually going to get a loss instead of profit. In comparison to South African universities, our own are charging fees that are way above what is expected. It seems cheaper to go and learn in South Africa than stay here.

This is a call to the responsible authorities to deal with the rotten elements of society. Once again we need to be a vibrant country in as much as our education is concerned.

Dollars, dollars and dollar!

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Wednesday, January 14th, 2009 by Godfrey Macheso

I wonder how easily dreams come out to be true in this world?

It had been my childhood dream that one day I would like to go to the American state and upgrade my and our family status in society. My mother in having known what my aspirations were thought in her lifetime she could live to be an honoured person, having a son abroad and everyone admiring the beautiful house she had thought of in her mind. Those were the days, and gone are they no more to return. My mother and father have since passed away with their son’s dream not yet realised, not because the son chose not to have it true, but because it seems the USA is already in Zimbabwe and therefore there is no need to go there physically.

The issue behind this is pretty obvious of course. There is now no need for one to go outside since the little money that one gets from outside is worth nothing when you come back home. I laughed at one of my friends who is an economist and works for the Zimbabwe treasury when he kind of gave a prophecy last year that with the way things are going in Zimbabwe it will soon have a dual currency. I could not figure out what exactly he meant at the time but I am coming to realize what he was trying to express.

Can you imagine how it is when you become an alien with your country’s money? Segregation is now dominant in the economy because if one does not have the Greenback or the Rand, you are an outcast.

Just imagine that long back it used to be a fearsome thing to be in possession of foreign currency but now even a toddler knows and has handled certain amounts. The US$ is no longer sacred as every little commodity is now ranging from a dollar upwards.

Can you imagine buying 10 tomatoes for US$1?

In as much as we might like the dollarisation of the economy the way it is occurring is harming us. Consider that public hospitals are now demanding that you pay US$70 for a night of admission without any medication being provided to you. It leaves me to wonder whether it is for service delivery that we are being charged in forex or it is just greed and speculation?

The truth is that there are only a few people who are benefiting with using the US dollar while the majority are languishing in abject poverty.

It therefore sums it up that going outside the country to work is now for prestige purposes only as the money that one acquires out there has little value when you come back to enjoy the fruit of your labour. I am already in the USA though not physically waiting until Obama changes his currency or something.

A day in the life of a Zimbabwean

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Wednesday, December 3rd, 2008 by Godfrey Macheso

As you wake up you might have the audacity of mumbling a few words of thanksgiving to the Almighty for the new day that has come up and also for guidance on the day’s adventures.

As is the case everywhere you run straight to the toilet to relieve yourself of the digested air in your stomach only to receive a shout from the person cleaning the toilet (probably on duty that week) that you can’t expect to use the toilet when there is no water. Blaming yourself for your ignorance you walk into your room pondering your next move because relief will only be possible after it gets dark, in the nearby veld.

You prepare for the day and as you move towards the wardrobe you just realize it is a mere waste of time as all the clothes are lying in the washing basket and you didn’t do any laundry for the past two weeks due to the acute shortage of water in your suburb. Again you curse yourself for such self attained stupidity and you proceed to the washing basket to look for something that is a little bit clean so that you canĀ  put it on. Luck strikes you and you find this pair of jeans that you have worn only once in the past two weeks and a t-shirt that is semi-clean. But these need to be ironed for a better impression and alas there has been no electricity for the past three days due to a transformer fault and surprisingly it is only your residential line that has been affected by this since the guys across the street have electricity.

This means double trouble since there is going to be no breakfast and already this is triplicating the issue since you did not have supper the last night.

Finally, with the wretched clothes on, you board a Kombi but to your surprise the fare the conductor was shouting for a single trip has doubled the moment the Kombi starts the journey and you have no option but to fork out the $500 000 that you got from the Bank yesterday and pay the fare. When you get to town it is again a surprise to find out that the queue to your bank has gone past three or four blocks and there is no option but to wait in the queue. The thought of being a professional, having graduated from one of the country’s renowned universities, but still unemployed, makes you think it as improper to wait for a paltry sum.

You make it to ZIMEX mall were you intend to change the ZAR 100 that you had got from a relative. As you line up a buyer (because buyers are now being outnumbered by sellers there is a queue) a pickpocket slips their hand into your pocket and gets the much depended on ZAR 100. Meanwhile they also wait in the queue behind you to change their loot. You approach the buyer and you put your hand in the pocket to look for the money but it is to no avail. The confusion that surrounds you makes the other people around you think that you are a thief and the next thing that happens is you are chased from the place, even by the same people that stole your money.

The next thing to do would be to report the rascal to the police so that they can be brought to book and within you there is a feeling that the police should wipe all the dealers away from the Mall just because of your case. Horror strikes you as you get to Harare Central Police Station when you find there is a queue so large even as compared to the one at the bank. You think it is for those that want to have their documents certified and you “jump” the queue only to receive a lash from the Officer on duty telling you to go to the back of the queue. Attempts to explain your issue are fruitless as the Officer is already attending to some people that have been brought in on charges of “illegal” vending of bananas at Copacabana Market in the City Centre.

Everything about, and around you seems to be hard hit by complications and there is no way to solve any of the issues at stake. In the long run you become loser in your bid to be a winner in the race for your own economic stability in a country like Zimbabwe.