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.

Zimbabwe, the country we don’t know how to survive

What’s next? That’s what we all want to know.
The author says that regardless of threats of soldiers who 'are trained to kill' if we dare to protest, there is no stopping inflation. Picture: Reuters

A year ago last week Zimbabwe was brought to its knees when army trucks and tanks rolled into the capital city of Harare and soldiers armed with assault rifles and live ammunition, opened fire on unarmed civilians and killed in cold blood: Ishmael Kumire (41), Silvia Maphosa (53), Gavin Dean Charles (45), Brian Zhuwao (26), Jealous Chikandira (21) and Challenge Tauro (20). We will never forget, and the world’s media who witnessed this abomination first hand, will never forget, the horrific image of a soldier kneeling on the tarmac in the centre of Harare, taking aim and shooting repeatedly at terrified civilians who were running away.  Some of the fleeing civilians were shot in the back and at least 35 bystanders were seriously injured.
One year later, despite a lengthy and expensive Commission of Inquiry into the shootings of civilians by soldiers; despite perpetrators being identified in the press and on scores of social media videos and photos, no one has yet been held to account for this horror. The Army General who commanded the troops accused of killing six civilians on 1 August 2018, retired and was then appointed as the Ambassador designate to Tanzania. Rtd General Sanyatwe, Zimbabwe’s Ambassador designate to Tanzania, was this week put on the USA sanctions list but has yet to be held to account in Zimbabwe.
The events of one year ago marked the turning point for our country. Disputed elections were again tearing our country apart but on that day we were shown, in the most brutal, graphic manner, what lay ahead for us if we dared to protest. Before 2018 protestors had to contend with riot police, tear gas and rubber batons but after the 1st of August 2018 this changed to armed soldiers with live ammunition. Soldiers returned to our streets in towns and cities across the country in February 2019 after protests against the increase in fuel prices from $1.31 to $3.31. The government switched the internet off to the whole country, twelve people were killed, others brutalized and raped and for those atrocities also, no one has been held to account.
In the months that have followed, the Zimbabwe that we know and love has become the Zimbabwe that we don’t know how to survive. In February the government converted all our US dollars to Zimbabwe bond dollars. In May they increased the price of fuel from $3.31 to $5.00 a litre. On July 15 fuel went up to $5.84 a litre. On July 22 it went up to $7.47 a litre. 

With each fuel increase the prices of everything go up and as people become ever more desperate to survive, the authorities meet our pain and despair with threats of soldiers should we dare to protest.  Last week the deputy minister for war veterans, Victor Mantemadanda, said: ”Our constitution allows us to send soldiers and they do not use minimum force, they don’t know it; they are trained to kill. So forewarned is forearmed, stay at home lest you be caught in the crossfire, so run away when protests start.”
Regardless of the threats of soldiers who “are trained to kill” if we dare to protest, there is no stopping inflation. In May inflation was 97%, in June it was 175% and this week the Minister of Finance announced that annual inflation figures would no longer be released every month and said no new figures would be announced until February 2020. Announce the figures or not Mr minister, our shopping baskets are getting lighter and our bills getting higher every day so you can hide the numbers but not the facts.

Last week a 2kg bag of sugar was $11; today it is $17, that one fact says it all.

This week the Minister of Finance announced a tripling in the price of electricity for domestic consumers from 9 to 27 cents per kilowatt hour. The minister also announced that all vehicle licence fees and all toll gate fees are to increase by 400% with immediate effect. Toll gate fees have increased from 2 to 10 Zimbabwe dollars for light vehicles, from 3 to 15 dollars for minibuses and from 5 to 25 dollars for heavy vehicles.

There are no feasible alternate routes for motorists to use to avoid toll gates, no exemptions for food trucks, public transporters, school buses or commuters. The only free passes through Zimbabwe’s toll gates are for members of Zimbabwe’s government, their departments and ministry’s. The impact of these 400% increases together with monthly fuel price rises and  tripling of electricity tariffs will send inflation spiralling out of control, whether authorities release the inflation figures or not. 

 This August 2019 there is absolutely no compassion or empathy being afforded by authorities for the immense struggle of people in all walks of life. Everywhere people say there’s no point going to work anymore. One man I met this week said “we are working for free”. Salaries are not going up to match price increases. Soldiers, for example, who are “trained to kill” were earning around US$500 in February 2019 and that is now only worth US$50, barely enough to survive a week.
What’s next Zimbabwe? That’s what we all want to know. As I write this letter on a cold and windy end of winter day, a Blackshouldered Kite is patrolling the skies, hovering mid air above a morsel of paralyzed prey below and I realise that we, Zimbabwe, are the paralyzed prey waiting for something, anything that will remove the predator. – © Cathy Buckle

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



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

You must be signed in to comment.


Tragic. Hyperinflation for the second time in a decade.

With more than enough to eat – Zim was a net food exporter – far lower unemployment and a stable and strong currency, they still took up arms against the Smith government. There is today however no armed struggle against the ZanuPF regime. Hence it follows that Zimbabweans enjoy starving in an economic wasteland and do not want to live in a prosperous country.

I am not the smartest man, but your logic makes 100% sense…

It is like there is more to life and political choices than just employment and currency.

@ Anything: yes, dying

Disagree. Its not tragic. Its an acceptable consequence to reckless behavior. Cause and effect. There are no exceptions to that rule.

i am visiting Europe at the moment and i can tell you people are clueless about the dire straights Zim and SA are in.
Unlike when i travelled here ad a youngster in the 70’s and 80’s , then apartheid was regularly thrown in my face.
The anti Crocodile and thieving Anc detractors are not getting the message out here

An irish friend recently told me there is little in their news about SA and so they sometimes wonder if its really as bad as some of the expats living in the UK claim.
So I gave some examples of here and zim and her response was basically — holy hell, you need to get out now.
Which actually startled me because what I said was things are pretty tough and looking bleak but we are still hanging on for now
But it emphasized two points for me — firstly, their media is very silent compared to the 70 and 80’s reporting on SA and Zim which makes them skeptical. An interesting debate about why the discrepancy in reportint but anyways.
The 2nd point, is that I thought she over-reacted from examples I thought of as not all that dire which makes me believe we have become genuinely numb and blunted in our expectations of what life and democracy should be.

But ja anyways, we are pretty much on our own here. With little international scrutiny the comrades can do whatever they want.

Its amazing how the world turns a blind eye now. Cannot quite understand why… Makes one wonder if government should have listened to them back in the day. Not condoning any human right violations, but still.

True. A glance at Bloomberg shows one SA article – blaming apartheid for CT gang issues. Could have been written 40 years ago by Peter Hain. Go figure.

A glimpse of our future under the ANC. Coming sooner than we may like to think.

The Zimbos voters voted for it and wanted it. You reap what you sow. soon coming to country near us thanks to the corrupt ANC and its brainless supporters.

Expat – its already here, for those with eyes to see and who aren’t trapped in an emotional prison of “big skies and braaivleis”

What’s next?

More refugees jumping from the fire into the frying pan of neighboring countries.

Or deal with impending starvation and perpetual poverty.

The opposition and the overseas observers did not insist that Zimbabweans outside the country can vote.

If that was done the election might have turned out differently.

People get the governments they deserve just like us here in South Africa. Now that the scapegoat is gone the government in Zim is bare to see for all.

Whenever the majority of the voters in a country suffers from the victim complex or the slave mentality, they always manage to turn their environment into a manifestation of their mindset.

This explains the famine that follows liberation struggles. Nature and socio-economics have a way of satisfying the needs of people who find comfort, and excuses, in their victimhood. If they believe that they are victims, then circumstances will inevitably provide them with real-life, practical reasons to feel like that. This is the mechanism by which people “become what they think about”. Thoughts can bring wealth and health, or thoughts can bring famine and disease. The right to vote, a democracy, gives people the power to turn their environment into a manifestation of their thought processes. In Africa, over the longer term, this process has proven to be most lethal.

cause and effect plus rational egoism – the lack of self value and also the prisoner’s dilemma. The decision based upon one relies on the decision of the other. It manifested it ways in the thinking that is why the country is on the brink of collapse. i too myself want to go work for the IMF, world Bank UN etc but not in SA rather where a bigger impact can be made. I am almost done with my BA International relations degree so I will embark on fixing Africa but SA no thanks. The IC must fix from somewhere else.

This is what soft diplomacy brings. Tyrants.

“We received criticism on the mode of getting back our land. I have always said you can look for a textbook on how to cook or make a bomb, but there is no text book on how to get your land. Now you can write textbooks (on the Fast track Land Reform Programme) after the fact and get your PhDs… What is important is that we are masters of our Land.” Cde ED Mnangagwa.

We all know the sources of the Zimbabwean economy problems…”SANCTIONS”, How do you all expect Zimbabwe to flourish when its hamstrung by the punitive measures. Not acknowledging these and lobbying for their removal you will always pen these good for nothing articles, which torch flames of hate, resentment. Like I always say,, if Zimbabwe is such a bad country, why not move? juss go to where inflation is one digit,,,

According to the same logic, the punitive justice system is to blame for the killings on the Cape Flats. The family structure falls apart when the gang leaders are incarcerated for their criminal behaviour. The lack of family structure leads to gang violence. Therefore, just like sanctions led to the implosion of Zimbabwe, the justice system led to the gang killings in Cape Town.

Makombe, your insights are an epiphany.

Let’s not disturb the good vibe with the fact that Zimbabweans chased their most productive citizens out of the country, and broke their own agreement with the IMF. They defaulted on their debt-repayments. They live beyond their means and they stole private property. Now, you say that sanctions are to blame! This is the victim mentality in action, really!

Well many Zimbabweans want to leave, but they simply can’t.
I spoke to one of my dad’s workers who is from Zim over the weekend, he says that getting a passport in Zim now is neigh impossible, and that your best bet on getting one involves paying a government official 200%+ the actual rate and then you have a good chance of getting one.

Scary stuff, the same thing happened in Venezuela, people want to flee a country, but if you can’t get a passport you are stuck there.

PJJ, I anxiously searched for my passport after I read your post, and to my great relief, it is valid until 2026. Please provide an age restriction before you publish a post like that again – “Not suitable for ages above 50”.

Good example of the Africa mindset that turned Zim into a wasteland of poverty. Well-they got their land and freedom so now they can rejoice.

Well Humba – whilst I did not support the Ian Smith govt,they had robust sanctions for over 10 years and did OK?

Humba you are clearly delirious or just totally misinformed about the history of Zimbabwe.
When the tyrant Mugabe took over he proceeded to take land away from the white farmers. This was done forcefully and without compensation.
What was the result?
Zimbabwe turned into a food importing nation from a food exporting country and millions began starving. This was the catalyst in the Zimbabwean economic downfall and not your “SANCTION” clouds in the sky theory.
Continue enjoying your triple digit inflation while those who fled to first world nations enjoy a normalised way of life and society.
It is thinking from individuals like yourself that will ensure the continued Southern African demise.

You are quite casual with the vicious Black-on-Black human rights abuses that took place and are still rife in Zimbabwe. SAD HEY!

No wonder Zim is where it is with your “logic”. Enjoy your country.

I am totally gatvol with South Africa, a county incapable of learning a single lesson from the tragedy that is Zimbabwe. Both countries had opportunities to massively improve the lives of Black people yet chose instead a road of victimhood and racial self-destruction. To those who supported ZANU PF and the ANC: You have been conned by your political masters but also have yourself to blame.

Agree, but they don’t know it.

one of the best comments I read so far. It pretty much sums up the attitude of black people in SA and their leaders. The start of every speech of CR refers to apartheid. We all know about apartheid, but move on people, that is what the rest of Africa seems to be doing?

Well, what do you expect? You did not pay the price and now you also don’t want to be reminded that there is a bill to pay?

Cathy, endurance and fortitude are remarkable…nuf said!

It is most likely that China would ” bail them out ” knowing quite well that Zim would never be able to repay the loans. In short .. a legal occupation of land with compensation.

One would think that with this local example of a total failed state, our indigenous people would realise we are on the same path and vote differently. Sadly, entropy is the only law they care to follow.

End of comments.





Follow us:

Search Articles:Advanced Search
Click a Company: