You are currently viewing our desktop site, do you want to download our app instead?
Moneyweb Android App Moneyweb iOS App Moneyweb Mobile Web App
Join our mailing list to receive top business news every weekday morning.

5 slices of bread and willing participants in their own torture

The latest letter from Zimbabwe…
Image: Shutterstock

Sixty-one days into Zimbabwe’s Covid-19 lockdown, I went into the supermarket early in the morning. There was thick mist and it was cold and muggy.

The infrared forehead thermometer at the door wasn’t working (because it’s cold, the lady said) but masks were on and hands were squirted. I’d heard that prices had gone mad and so I knew that this would probably be ‘phone shopping’ where I just take pictures of prices and do adding up as I try to work out what I can afford to buy. I wasn’t alone in the adding up department.

Two young men were going shelf to shelf to see what they could afford. The bag of chicken pieces was rejected with exclamations at the price; the tiny square of cheese was turned over and put back; the packet of ‘budget beef bones’ was too expensive, the loaf of bread was too much as was the bag of biscuits and finally they picked up the small bag of ‘five slices’. Five slices of white bread, wrapped in a clear plastic bag and called: ‘School Pack 5 slices’ was priced at Z$11.49. The reality of Z$2.29 for each precious slice of bread was deeply shocking.

Fourteen months ago when the Zimbabwe government converted all our US dollars to Zimbabwe dollars at the rate of one to one, a whole loaf of bread, with 18 slices, cost less than one dollar. The majority of people here don’t have access to anything except Zimbabwe dollars and bread has become a luxury most cannot afford.

Sixty one days into lockdown the struggle to survive for the majority of Zimbabweans who live from hand to mouth is unbearable. The government has eased the lockdown for businesses but not for informal traders, who have now spent two months unable to do anything to earn a living and support their families. In 2018 a study by the IMF showed that Zimbabwe has the second largest informal sector in the world and now all of these men and women are just sitting at home: helpless, hungry, desperate.

A friend I met, who was trying to do furniture upholstery to survive lockdown, awoke in the night to find that a burglar had taken all of his upholstery tools. He has no chance of replacing any of them because when lockdown started two months ago you needed 40 Zimbabwe dollars to buy one US dollar; today you need 70 Zimbabwe dollars to buy one US dollar.

Inflation is presently estimated to be over 900% by international economist Professor Steve Hanke at Johns Hopkins University in the US.

As if to divert our attention from the shocking reality of the collapsing state of our country, the horrific story of the abduction, torture, abuse and sexual assault of three MDC women I wrote about a fortnight ago continues.

Read: Zim’s lack of Covid-19 assistance laid bare

Soon after the women were found, rescued and hospitalised, the sickening comments by people in our government began.

The Deputy Minister of Information, Energy Mutodi said on Twitter: “Details emerge MDC youths Joana Mamombe, Netsai Marova & Cecilia Chimbiri went out for a romantic night to Bindura with their lovers who are artisanal miners. They parked their car at a police station for safety but tragedy struck when they demanded foreign currency for services.”

Mr Mutodi was fired a few days later.

The Permanent Secretary in the Ministry of Information, Nick Mangwana posted this on Twitter:


But a little later Mr Mangwana said this wasn’t the official government position and that he was quoting a “troll.”

Next came the arrest of two journalists, Frank Chikowore, (freelance) and Samuel Takawira (263Chat). They spent four nights in jail after going to the hospital to interview the three MDC women who were recovering from injuries sustained during their abduction and torture. The two journalists were charged with violating coronavirus lockdown regulations.

Then came the Foreign Affairs Minister, S B Moyo, who said that the three women were most likely to be “victims of a third force” or were “willing participants” in a “stage managed theatre.” Willing Participants? Abducted from a police station, hooded, beaten, abused and sexually assaulted with a firearm and you are “willing participant”?

Yet again Zimbabwe has no words, but wait, it gets even more unbelievable.

The three victims: MP Joana Mamombe, Netsai Marova and Cecilia Chimbiri were then charged, in their hospital beds, for taking part in a demonstration, breaching Covid-19 lockdown regulations and promoting public violence.

To date, the perpetrators have not been identified, located or arrested. Zimbabwe has maintained its reputation of being a place where victims are treated as perpetrators.

Copyright © Cathy Buckle

Get access to Moneyweb's financial intelligence and support quality journalism for only
R63/month or R630/year.
Sign up here, cancel at any time.



Sort by:
  • Oldest first
  • Newest first
  • Top voted

You must be signed in to comment.


Sad and sickening to read.

I don’t see any peaceful resolution there anytime soon. This is what “The Continent” does to itself.

Let us not allow the facts of inflation in Zim distract us from the fact that Mr Crabs sold Spongebob’s soul for 62 cents…

CR take note of how expensive electricity is becoming and the trough that is ESKOM SAA DENEL the municipalities are surely but surely strangling us
please kill the LRA and let the market find equilibrium by the worker offering his labour and been paid more than the pittance of 350
otherwise,Sir, we too are on the slippery slope of destitution

Zimbabweans only have themselves to blame for voting in the government they have. If the election results are rigged which they probably are they need to rise up en mass. Until they get out and do something one can only assume that they are willing to be abused by the government forever.

It cannot be Cathy – pres. Ramaphosa held up Mugabe as a great leader of Africa.

This is the inevitable result of the comunalist mindset. Famine is in the DNA of the comunalist. Comunalists vote to be exploited and abused. They jump at every opportunity to wipe themselves off the face of the earth.

End of comments.


Insider GOLD
ONLY R63pm

Moneyweb's premium subscription is a membership service which will give you access to a number of tools to take charge of your investments.
Choose a yearly subscription at R630pa - SAVE R126

Get instant access to all our tools and content. Monthly subscription can be cancelled at any time.

Follow us:

Search Articles:Advanced Search
Click a Company: