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The sounds of Zimbabwe

How rich Zimbabwe is, how much we have to share, if only …
The author describes a land where absurdity, irony and inequality reign. Image: Dan Kitwood/Getty Images

Banging and crashing, lightning zig-zagging across the purple sky, trees bending sideways in a fierce wind, leaves ripped off branches and then the rain came, pounding down so hard you couldn’t hear yourself think – the first storm of the season had arrived in my home town.

That night the voices of a million frogs serenaded under the stars: bubbles and chirps, whistles and croaks, throaty gurgles and delicate little ‘peep peep’ calls.

The following morning a quick look in the rain gauge, 10mm recorded, just under half an inch, but it’s not the numbers it’s the life that the first rain in six months has revived: flying ant wings on damp ground, golden-brown sausage flies and a giant moth almost the size of my hand.

Life returned to Zimbabwe last week but I can’t say the same about common sense and priorities in our beleaguered land.

Johns Hopkins Economist Professor Steve Hanke recently described Zimbabwe’s economy as being in a “death spiral” after the government threatened to suspend businesses using black market prices.

“I’ve seen this movie before. It has a tragic ending,” Hanke said, and his words are echoing our worst fears as we watch the price stickers on supermarket shelves going up and up and the amount of items in our shopping baskets going down and down.

We have not only seen this movie before, we’ve lived through it and the thought of doing it again is frightening.

But while our fears grow and the warnings come thick and fast as the value of the Zim dollar continues to crash against the US dollar, the minister of finance and 350 delegates jetted off for a pre-budget seminar at the Elephant Hills Hotel in Victoria Falls, which costs US$276 (around R4 252) per unit for bed and breakfast, according to Newsday.

Read: UAE, Zimbabwe sign pact that may see Victoria Falls gold market

At the pre-budget seminar the minister said that despite growing calls for a return to US dollars, that wasn’t going to happen.

“It is not a good idea and it will be suicidal to do so,” he said, “we are reforming the country, industry is picking up … we have done well to ensure salaries are not eroded.”

Salaries are not eroded Mr Minister, are you serious? Most people have been earning a quarter of their previous salaries since US dollars were converted into bond dollars two years ago, and the value is declining by the day.

While 350 delegates argued it out in US$276-a-night hotel rooms, war veterans were protesting in Harare about their pensions which are worth less than US$80 (around R1 232) a month.

One protestor said: “Those in government – their shirts can hardly hold their stomachs while we suffer.”

The protestors were prevented from delivering their petition to war veteran President Emmerson Mnangagwa, and 40 of them were then arrested. The protesters, handcuffed to each other, were led into the courts while, according to the New Zimbabwe news platform, the president and a 100-strong delegation prepared to leave for Glasgow for two weeks for the UN Climate Change Conference.

Read: Lessons from Zim’s tobacco farmers for the COP26 climate change talks

Sitting on a rock in the cool early morning recently trying to get my head around the absurdity, irony and inequality between the tight-shirted jet-setting guys and the rest of us I suddenly realised I wasn’t alone. A magnificent sable lay in the grass quietly chewing the cud.

How rich Zimbabwe is, how much we’ve got to share, if only …

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Last night zuma faced the press cameras, full of confidence and laughs “that the anc will rule until the Man that left the earth returns again”. And he is right, unfortunately. Like Zim, we are here cursed with a voters base that is bribed by way of SASSA and traditional leaders’ allowances, and suffers from a severe lack of IQ and common sense. Zim 2.0 is growing south of the Limpopo river…cry the beloved country, so much possibilities, so many Absolutely No Conscience cadres.

The sound of Zim is the Sounds of Silence. (Sorry to S&G)
It the sound of Africa.Silence.Everything destroyed.
“Hello darkness my old friend…” Sounds of Silence by Simon and Garfunkel.

I’ve even visited Zimbabwe’s main naval base on Lake Kariba. Sadly, there is nothing left of their submarine capability. Many of the ex-naval personnel have taken up the informal trade of drying Kapenta.

These marvelously descriptive letters from Zimbabwe are both beautiful and heartbreaking. Heartbreaking because we can see our own beautiful country going down the same road and those of us that see this can do nothing about it!
It’s not even about race. It’s about a greedy unethical political class that is only interested in power and enriching themselves. Same like here…..We can do nothing but cry for this beloved country.

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