Zimbabwe: Heading backwards again and fast

For the past 54 weeks, citizens have been living in a state of deterioration marked by fear and economic hardship.
Marches in Harare on August 16 were blocked by the police, leading to the arrest of 91 activists. Picture: Bloomberg News

I am writing this letter to you from Zimbabwe on Friday with a very heavy heart. Despite a year of rhetoric from President Emmerson Mnangagwa that this was a ‘New Dispensation’ and that we were ‘Open For Business’, events of today (August 16) showed us, and the world, that absolutely nothing has changed.  
Yet again the streets of Harare were filled with unarmed, running, screaming people chased by riot police using their baton sticks (truncheons) again and again. People who fell down were repeatedly beaten on the tarmac, their images filmed for the world to see. People sitting on the streets were beaten. The MDC described it as “extreme brutality against citizens.” There were no cars being stoned, no tyres being burned, no shops being looted and no signs of any violence, making the reaction of the police simply incomprehensible.
In the past week eighteen civic and political activists and MDC officials have been abducted and tortured ahead of the planned march. Yet again we have heard stories we prayed we would never ever have to hear again after the end of Robert Mugabe: accounts of armed men coming at night, people abducted, taken in unmarked vehicles, beaten on the soles of their feet, dumped on roadsides.
My heart was breaking watching the scenes from Harare today because it was on these exact streets that I marched with hundreds of thousands of others in November 2017, wearing my flag with such pride, Zimbabwean to the depths of my soul, caught up in a tidal wave of euphoria and joy at the end days of Robert Mugabe. How can Zimbabwe have gone so far backwards again and so fast?
For a moment, if we had dared to hope that police, who have been suffering the same hell as the rest of us, would not raise their baton sticks against unarmed citizens marching in Harare today, we had not been paying attention. Speaking at Monday’s Heroes Day events, President Mnangagwa said: “Government is finalising special remuneration packages for the men and women in uniform, the military salary concept, and other incentives to cushion them from hardships that have affected the country’s workers.”
For the past 54 weeks (since the July 30, 2018, elections) we have been living in a state of continual, daily deterioration marked by anxiety, fear, and chronic economic hardship. We have seen all our US dollars in banks, savings accounts and pension funds unashamedly converted by our government into Zimbabwe Bond dollars which have lost 98% of their real US dollar value in the past 20 weeks. We can’t afford medical treatments and medicines anymore; fuel prices have gone up seven times this year and food prices quadrupled. As a nation we have been decimated by our own government: employers, employees, self employed and unemployed citizens, civil servants, pensioners: none have been spared.
This week the World Food Programme (WFP) said 2.3 million people in rural Zimbabwe need emergency food aid now and this number will increase to 5.5 million in the coming weeks. The government estimates another 2.2 million people in urban areas also require food aid, bringing the total to 7.7 million, over half of our total population. The WFP said “We are talking about people who truly are marching towards starvation if we are not here to help them.”
Today in Harare, people already marching towards starvation, also marched towards baton sticks; we feel their pain and our hearts are with them. Until next time, thanks for reading this letter from Zimbabwe, now in its 19th year. – © Cathy Buckle.  

Cathy Buckle is a Zimbabwean writer and blogger living in Marondera, Zimbabwe.


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Sorry Cathy, the Zimbabwean people are getting what they deserve. The government they voted for. The same thing is happening to us in SA, we are getting what we voted for. The subsistence, herdsman thinking that drives these thought processes takes the post-colonial environment to its historical mean, being the pre-colonial environment. Rule by the strong man and his people as property and their property as his property. This is a historical certainty

Dead right. When, during the UDI years, the Rhodesians had more than enough to eat, and the unemployment rate was a fraction of what it is today, they still took up arms to “liberate” themselves (liberation, that is, from having enough to eat and having a job.)

There is no armed insurrection today, and there is no sign of this happening. Which leads to only one conclusion: most Zimbos are happy with their utter misery. If they were not, why then not also launch an armed insurrection?

You are so right. Whilst visiting Zim recently I spoke to local Zimbos and they all say the same thing “life was better then” They will not rise up because they have no money and no weapons. They are also scared of what happened in Matabeleland in early independence days when the army slaughtered locals to prevent an uprising.

Funny how propaganda is literally electing presidents around the world yet there are still people who actually believe that free and fair elections exist. Wake up sheeple!

Cathy good to see you back giving us inside info from Zimbabwe. I used to love reading your blogs. Please keep it up.

One has to wonder how the state of Zimbabwe will survive when the only people employed are those in state employ and the only ones with any small amount of money to spend are those in state employ.

Could it get any worse? Sadly yes and we will see more and more Zimbabweans fleeing into SA.

We are witnessing a socio-economic phenomenon in action. The scene that plays out in Zimbabwe, Venezuela and South Africa are the logical, expected consequences when free-market, capitalist advancements are reversed.

The benefits of capitalism allow populations to escape the Malthusian Trap that brings equilibrium between agricultural practices and population growth in realtime. Capitalism and rule of law allow populations to expand. The advanced farming enterprise is built on respect for property rights. The increased production of advanced farming supports population growth.

It is only logical that this growth in the size of the population, that was allowed and enabled by free-market laws, will be reversed by the abandonment of capitalism. The viable size of the population is merely a result of the political system of the day.

What we have to ask ourselves is this – What would the size of the South African population be today, if we never had a capitalist system, because the answer to this question will point to the population size we will be trending towards under socialism. The average person in Venezuela lost 12kg of body weight in 2018 alone. For how long can such a situation last before the weight of the average person goes negative?

My best guestimate is that South Africa cannot viably carry more than about 5 million people under ANC rule. Luthuli House should be renamed to “The Malthusian Trap”.

We will not become Zimbabwe or Venezuela.

The majority of our population are filled with more wrath, hate, desire for revenge and disillusionment than the Zimbabweans or the Venezuelans could ever be.

Citizens of those two countries also have a much higher level of education than their average South African counterparts.

The ANC will need a scapegoat sooner or later for their failures.

Its policy of turning a blind eye to farm attacks (essentially progroms) gives a clue as to what lies in store.

Get your money out, sure. But get your kids out first.

I agree David, it will most likely be: SA meets Uganda (Amin) meets Rwanda (Hutu’s). That’s not alarmist, just logical thinking. The hatred here is immeasurable towards the post-colonials

Capitalism world wide works only for about 40% of a country’s population, the other 60% struggle with some countries a little better than others. A new way of sharing the benefits of capitalism is needed. I do not know the answer, but the way populism grow in certain countries confirms this problem. Poverty is a massive problem around the globe, a difficult problem per se and I do not think politicians can ever resolve such a complicated problem. Zim caused it’s own disaster.

Hachmet, you touch on some of our contemporary issues here. The reality is that capitalism works for everybody, even for the poorest of the poor, even for the “exploited” workers, even for the people who depend on social grants. In short, it works for everybody who owns a cellphone, a radio, a pair of glasses or a box of matches.

The focus of the capitalist system, the ultimate beneficiary, the King, the one with all the power, is the consumer. The consumer dictates the flow of capital. The consumer decides who becomes wealthy and who goes bankrupt. For every wealthy capitalist, there are thousands of bankrupt capitalists whose business plans were discarded by the consumer. There is no more just and equitable system than free-market capitalism. Consumers remunerate a successful entrepreneur because he produces and supplies the best product at the best price. This is the only way to gather wealth in a capitalist system. The consumer enjoys total freedom of choice. Nobody forces the consumer to buy anything.

There is an alternative to this system. The alternative negates and lowers the importance of the consumer. The alternative raises the importance of employees to the detriment of consumers. The alternative takes away all the choices of the consumer, under the banner of “social justice”. Socialism elevates the rights of workers and the “disadvantaged” to be superior to that of the consumer, while the workers, their families, their communities, their fellow citizens and the “disadvantaged” are all consumers. Socialism steals from the poorest of the poor under the false banner of an “equal society”. The only way to gather wealth in a socialist system is by exploiting common or shared resources. There is no freedom of choice in a socialist system. The consumer must accept the little that is available at any price. Look at Zimbabwe.

The socialist system enriches the Guptas and the criminal politicians, while it impoverishes everybody else.

“The misery of being exploited by capitalists is nothing compared to the misery of not being exploited at all.” – Joan Robinson

Do we still have a Capitalist system? I beg to differ. All the big players ie. international banks and corporations that gets bailed out by printing money. This causes a false economy where handouts can be given to the poor that keeps on breeding. This system is a snake eating its own tail, how long can you keep selling this snake oil that aggravate a situation?


I disagree with your statement that “Capitalism world wide works only for about 40% of a country’s population”. What evidence do you have for this?

Countries that have followed the mantra of private property rights, capitalism and rule of law for long enough to take effect have a far higher proportion that it would “work for”. I would say it “works” for everyone.

The “problem” we are seeing in western countries is not that the poor are getting poorer (because they are not in an absolute sense) but that the middle classes and rich are getting richer at a faster rate and the poorest are being left behind, but only in a relative sense. But is this the fault of globally-competitive successful people or the fault of the poorest?

IMO it cannot be the fault of successful people that they are becoming even more successful unless they are deliberately holding back the poorest, which I do not see happening. Conversely, the poorest in rich countries are people who are stupid, lazy or chaotic; or are first generation immigrants without language or educational skills. The contribution of the poorest to society is minimal, in fact often negative as they are heavily subsidised by their fellow citizens…minimum wages in the UK and US approach R300k pa, not to mention all sorts of government services they receive but do not contribute to.

In a non-rich+capitalist society the pay and living standard of the poorest would be far lower…like it is in Africa that is not capitalist in a modern sense.

So capitalism in fact works for almost everyone BUT what everyone gets is proportional to their abilities and the value they add to society.

Let us not forget:
1) this country had colour TV years before SA did – now they barely have electricity to power street lights,
2) this country was the bread basket of Southern Africa – now they barely feed themselves,
3) this country succeeded in shooting down not one but two civilian aircraft, Sep ’78 – 48 killed including the massacre of 10 survivors, barely 5 months and just 32 miles from this crash site they did so again, Feb ’79 – 59 dead.
4) if it was such a success story in all these years why has half the population fled the place??

Dear Zimbabwe & African leaders..I was a year old when my father was kicked off his farm having left at night with my Mom and 3 year old sister in the car with nothing but the clothes on our back, heading South to SA.He was a tobacco farmer, who employed many laborers on his farm and a dream life..until.The workers clung to his car all crying..They didn’t want him to leave . my late father left me with a legacy.. don’t sit on your laurels get up and start over..Thats what he did..today i live by those words, and i have learnt one lesson..When in Africa don’t take anything for granted! I have NO SYMPATHY for any of you. You brought it upon yourselves..Get off your laurels, work,build,dont take what is not yours and move on..Sadly that is not the African way i guess as handouts is the only thing you expect .Fear not for the nation with the slanted eyes are Africas new colonialists.. they will take over without firing a shot..Take heed my fellow Africans

I believe that on an individual level, no person is more valuable than anybody else. In our humanness, we are all similar or equal. That is where it ends though.

The reality of socio-economics and one can almost say the laws of nature, dictates that people of a certain mindset are born to die of hunger. That is a terrible statement to make, but this is not my verdict to make, this is only me stating the obvious reality.

Your family was the solution for Zimbabwe, they thought that you were the problem, now they are paying with their lives for their ill-conceived idea.

SA is the last African colonial domino to fall. Slowly she does it, still falling as the skills (along with capital) emigrate.

Wat gaan oorbly in SA, is “snot en trane”.

Oh Rhodesia, what have you done?! But when you visit, ethnic Rhodesians seem to be happy, smiling in the streets (….maybe seeing you, hoping for handouts?)

Micheal, the ethnic Rhodesians are happy people unlike SA where the politicians have sown hatred in the hearts of the locals.

I think your comment about hatred from the locals is not true.
Remember, the black party that is spewing racist rhetoric only got 10% of the latest vote, and could not even manage to win one province or one local gov in 2014 elections. So, you no right to assume that every black person is an EFF. By the same token, not all Afrikaners belonged to AWB – the former Afrikaner fringe lunatics.
The majority of SAns who did not make reasonable material gain since 1994 are mostly hoping for the better for their kids and the next generation. Hence, they are taking their kids to colleges at great expenses from Capitec loans.

Cathy good to see you back with your emails. i have missed them.

Heading backwards is the only direction they know.

Another two million Zimbabweans on their way to South Africa.

…..to also benefit from NHI in years to come. (But good workers though, and many better educated than locals, who burned down schools).

Ethnic Rhodesians are generally well-mannered people, less aggressive than ethnic S’African (?)

Well they got the govt they voted for.
The sick joke of this whole thing is the same people who chased the farmers away are probably working for them in SA. LOL

End of comments.




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