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What we’ve been reduced to

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Bank queuing has become the major occupation of my early mornings and lunch hours. For me and a lot of other people, it has become necessary to open multiple bank accounts to get around the pathetic withdrawal limits that the central bank has been insisting upon. Although the maximum withdrawal was recently increased from the pathetic $1000 to another pathetic $20 000, this has not eased the demand for cash in the slightest bit, despite Gono’s reassurance in yesterday’s Herald newspaper that the cash situation will improve significantly and the backlog will be cleared. People’s money loses value every minute thus there is no motivation to keep it a second longer in the bank if people can help it. There will therefore always be a backlog as long as Gono and his henchmen do not come up with some viable fiscal policies that will check the ravaging inflation.

I’ve found that I despise bank queues. More and more I dread the indignity of standing in disorderly queues in order to get my hard-earned money. I mean, it’s not out of the ordinary for people to stand in queues worldwide, but the ones in Zimbabwe have a way of getting to you. There are all sorts of strange things going on that often make you wonder just how long the country can go on like this before it bursts at the seams.

It is hateful how the frustrating queues have eaten away at society’s moral fabric. Yesterday I watched a small group of angry men literally drag out one old man who had rejoined the queue, arguing they didn’t recognize him and that he was trying to use his age to jump the queue. Not so long ago it was the norm to give way to the old and frail, the pregnant and those who were obviously not in good health or had some sort of an emergency. Nowadays, everyone is just so tired of the daily onslaught of waiting and waiting, sometimes with a real chance of the cash running out before being served that they have completely lost all patience and sense of kindness. Those of ill health just have to get well again, or bring a wrapper to sit on while they wait their turn.

I particularly detest moments when I find myself stuck between two men. My last experience was quite unpleasant with people shoving this way and that and I could feel the man behind me press unashamedly into the small of my back with an extended section of his anatomy. Ordinarily one would stand slightly outside the queue with just one’s foot placed to mark one’s spot. But that is risky because when the self-important guards come to ‘control’ the queue, they shed off anyone who is not in single file with others.

Then there are those that just don’t bother to bath anymore even with the improved weather conditions we are now experiencing. I make it habit of queuing first thing in the morning at one of my banks and it is no longer surprising to catch a whiff of stale sweat and other things only known to God from some of the people queuing. It used to annoy me so much until I figured that sometimes, it is a reality that some people actually lack both soap and water to wash their bodies with; some would even have walked such long distances the bath they would have had in the morning makes no difference.

Above all these concerns is that a lot of productive time is being lost while people queue for money. I know almost all the staff working for one small company located at Newlands shopping centre that I was surprised one day to see them all in a bank queue and wondered who had remained to serve their customers. It is something of a catch-22 really. They are pressed by the need to get cash that will transport them to and from work the next day as well as the need to stay at their workstations as desired by employers. At the end of the day that explains why there is a lot of anger, bad mood and stress going round. It’s infectious.

I’ve taken to religiously making sure my MP3 player’s batteries are well charged for waiting so long in the queues. I play the music full blast and though it makes me appear unfriendly it saves me a lot of stress. When I listen to Regina Belle’s In Love Again – some of the words stand out though I dare not share them with my angry, frustrated fellow queuers:

Do you ever dream do you even know how tomorrow is another day,
Will we be in the same place in the same way?
Don’t wanna leave but it seems that I just can’t breathe
Maybe we need a change,
Coz we always complain about the same things.
If we agree to change – will it be for good or will we be back here again?

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