Every day since the power sharing deal was signed between Zanu PF and the MDC, Zimbabweans have waited with anticipation for a sign, any sign, that things are happening. So far the wait has been in vain as the same old, same old fills our days and the basic human rights crisis gets worse in every regard: food, electricity, water and access to our own money.
This week Gideon Gono, the governor of the Reserve Bank, swept into an underground car park in a dark limousine. A line of well dressed men clamoured forward to greet him and followed him to the waiting camera and microphone of ZBC TV. Speaking as if he was doing us some huge favour and with an ingratiating smile, Mr Gono announced that the maximum bank withdrawal limit for individuals was about to increase from one thousand to twenty thousand dollars a day. In real terms, as I write, this new limit is worth about 20 British pence. It’s impossible to believe that Mr Gono or any of Zimbabwe’s political elite are living on 20 pence a day and yet they offer no suggestion as to how ordinary people should survive.
For weeks we’ve been stuck in a living hell, queuing at banks for hours at a time day after day, to draw out enough of our own money to buy just one single loaf of bread – if we can find it. Riot police and dogs outside banks have become commonplace and so too have men selling money. They strut around brazenly, openly carrying huge bags of local coins that they are selling in exchange for US dollars or South African rand. Police don’t seem to be able to see them or the lines of black market currency dealers sitting on pavements everywhere and so the economic collapse continues to gallop ahead. Less than two months ago Mr Gono removed 10 zeroes from our currency and 7 of them are back already.
There is no doubt that this trend will continue as long as the power sharing deal between Zanu PF and the MDC remains words on paper and not deeds on the street. While Zimbabwe may just be a tadpole in the shark pool of the world economic crisis but the suffering of ordinary people is almost too unbearable to witness.
Its hard not to feel depressed as the wheels of power sharing don’t move at all and so we look to the glorious Jacaranda trees dripping purple flowers and to the shiny, deep purple mulberries that stain fingers and feet but give a moment of sweetness to our hardest of days. Until next time, thanks for reading, love cathy.
Copyright cathy buckle 20 September 2008.
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