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Bridging security in Harare

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You wouldn’t imagine coming across cars doubled parked in the official Meikles Hotel car park would you? But there they were blocking up the works when I was trying to find parking last Friday. A colleague and I were visiting one of those high security places which Natasha referred to in her blog, Our Own Racists. Unsurprisingly we had a similar experience except this time we were two white women albeit with a sizable age difference. So at the front door the female security guard insisted on looking in our bags and that we hand over our cell phones. She gave my bag a cursory glance which is just as well because she’d need to don latex gloves on account of the fetid bits and pieces that lurk within. My colleague’s bag had a much more thorough going over and finally the security guard demanded that she hand it over. But she pointed indignantly at me and said, well what about her bag then? In response the security guard just shrugged and both our bags bridged security.

After our meeting we thought we’d treat ourselves to coffee and something to eat in the lounge at Meikles Hotel. One of the problems in Zimbabwe right now is trying to work out the correct value of goods to ascertain whether the price is a rip-off. I looked at the menu and saw that a toasted sandwich cost Z$1.3 million which means that a teacher’s salary is equivalent to about 12 toasted sandwiches per month. I thought I’d rather go for a piece of anchovy toast, some marmite toast and a coffee. The waiter returned 5 minutes later to say that there wasn’t any anchovy so I changed my order to marmite toast and a scone. The waiter returned 5 minutes later to say that there wasn’t any marmite. So I had a scone, without butter. And this is a 5 * hotel.

When we left and went to get the car I asked my colleague how much money she reckoned I should take out for 3 hours parking. We agreed on Z$300 000. Turns out it cost Z$40 000.

This upside/downess of Zimbabwe reminds me of an email I got recently from a friend who suggests . . .

Someone this week compared life in Zimbabwe at the moment to ‘living in a blender’. It is very apt. People are discernibly more stressed than they were 3 months ago. The effects are quite disturbing – as people fight to survive – there seems to be less tolerance and love available somehow and a narrow feeling of isolation and separation emerges. It is challenging to be in this space as we go through periods when we lose the thread to that which affirms and connects our lives.

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