Kubatana.net ~ an online community of Zimbabwean activists

Archive for the 'Reflections' Category

Coming home

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Wednesday, October 9th, 2013 by Bev Reeler

crossing the Limpopo from the air
endorses the changing pattern  of reality

from South Africa to Zimbabwe

from a land marked by hundred-mile fences
by  strangely tinted  circular patches of irrigated fields
neat farms
straight roads
making direct connections from place to place

across the wide-winding sandy riverbed
uncoiling itself in slow curves across the bush

to a strange patchwork of small fields
wrapping itself around the slopes of the hills
folding over the floors of the valleys
contour-hugging paths and dusty roads
weave between places
around small woodlands (surprisingly still standing)
along invisible rivers
between dusty thatched homesteads

from a delineated and measured world
well-ordered and supervised by man
to organic chaos where the control of humans
is still held on a tenuous thread

the jacarandas are in full bloom
the paradise fly catchers have returned
the garden is a festive celebration of new life
danced by a thousand insects
and filled with the shouts and laughter of small boys

its home…
with power cuts and water shortage and rising costs
and corruption in full bloom in places of power

chaotic, messy and out of control

perhaps it is just the weather that keeps us here
or the warmth of relationship and connections
and the continuous challenge of rising to the next bit of chaos

it’s good to be back

World Postal Day

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Wednesday, October 9th, 2013 by Elizabeth Nyamuda

9 October marks the anniversary of the Universal Postal Union established in 1874. Today many years down the line the use of post has dwindled due to the advancement of technology. I remember when I was growing up I would check the ‘letterbox’ each time I walked past the gate. Sometimes I would go to gate solely to check the letterbox. Now I click buttons to check my Gmail mailbox.

Walking into a local post office in Harare you will discover that they have now ventured into offering other services like Ecocash, selling motor insurance and selling CDs. They have taken the stance of being ‘bambazonke’ in their quest for business survival. Who can blame them in Zimbabwe where many businesses have expanded their services to survive? Word on the street has it Chicken Inn will be selling sadza soon.

Despite the challenges being faced by post offices in Zimbabwe, it is important to recognise their efforts in delivering mail. Over the years Kubatana has been sending postal products to its membership. Most recently Kubatana sent out postcards through the postal service and one enthusiastic subscriber had this to say when they asked to get some postcards: “I cant wait to get the postcards so I can send a love letter to my mum and sweetheart. Technology has killed letter writing and the anxiety of waiting for the postman to deliver that special letter…”

Despite Internet uptake being high in Zimbabwe there still exists that group of people who do not have access to the Internet. By sending postal products to its membership Kubatana has been able to reach some of its remotest members in Sadza, Mbalabala, Mudzi, Watsomba, Mbire, Chibuwe to mention a few who do not have access to the Internet.

Thus joining the world as it commemorates World Postal Day is of paramount importance to Kubatana. Thank you Mr Postman for that anticipation of waiting for a letter in the letterbox by delivering our products using your services!

Harare City calls its own water unsafe

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Tuesday, October 8th, 2013 by Amanda Atwood

willowbean_water_131008Having struggled to open my eyes this morning, I went to Willowbean Café for a highly recommended Red Ambulance: Beetroot, ginger, carrot and who knows what other vegetable juice guaranteed to help you stand up straight again.

Whilst there, I overheard a customer asking why she was being refused a glass of water. She had ordered her breakfast and coffee, and preferred a glass of water to paying a dollar for a bottle of mineral water. Fair enough. The manager explained that they had been advised by the City of Harare that their water was contaminated, and that they should not serve it to customers.

Notices up in the café confirmed this, reading:

To our valued customers, please note Willowbean Café will no longer be offering tap / borehole water on our premises due to the fact that we cannot guarantee the quality of the water from this source.

In the interests of health and hygiene, please understand that only 100% treated water will be sold within these premises, i.e. bottled mineral water which guarantees it has been through a purifying system which is approved by the Ministry of Health and in accordance with their standards and regulations.

Please understand this practice has been put in place not to hinder you but to protect your health.

The manager also told the customer that they were on municipal water (not borehole). Whilst they’re lucky to even get municipal water in a city where so many are drilling boreholes or buying water deliveries, it doesn’t seem like much of the blessing if the very providers of the water are the ones telling you it’s not safe to drink.

Recent publications from Combined Harare Residents’ Association (CHRA) and Crisis in Zimbabwe Coalition are just some of those questioning the ability of the Local Government and Water ministries to deliver basic services such as clean drinking water.

All of this brought up some questions for me:

  1. Did the City of Harare also go to the nearby houses, gym, service station and primary and secondary school and advise them that their municipal water is unsafe to drink?
  2. If the city knows its municipal water is unsafe, what is it doing about it? If the water being supplied to Willowbean is unsafe, surely this means municipal water in other parts of the city is also unsafe?
  3. If you do run a café using an unsafe municipal water supply, what about the water you use to wash your vegetables, which you add to soup, and with which you make your coffee?

It also struck me as frustratingly unfair to the café. With unemployment being what it is in Zimbabwe, small local businesses need to be encouraged to grow and thrive, so that they can create jobs, support the families of their employees, and also create opportunities for local suppliers and merchants to provide their good and services. But if something as basic as providing clean, potable water in Zimbabwe’s capital is outside the reach of government, what hope is there to implement the broader objectives of “Indiginise, Develop, Empower, Employ?”

Table for 2

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Monday, October 7th, 2013 by Bev Clark



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Monday, October 7th, 2013 by Amanda Atwood

Fear passes from man to man
As one leaf passes its shudder
To another.

All at once the whole tree is trembling
And there is no sign of the wind.

Charles Simic


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Thursday, October 3rd, 2013 by Bev Clark