Weak at the knees: Cathy Buckle
By Cathy Buckle
It’s that gorgeous time of year in Zimbabwe when the first rains are beginning to fall after six long, dry months and everything comes back to life almost overnight. The voices of a thousand frogs at night, the singing of a million cicadas in the day.
Giant moths under the lights in the morning, sausage flies buzzing round in circles on the floor, the first thin, ticklish, wriggling chongololos (millipedes) and an extravaganza of birds.
It’s Starling time in Highveld gardens; midnight blue glossy starlings, deep purple plum- coloured starlings and gorgeous red- winged starlings which only reveal their crimson feathers in flight. All of this beauty helps to distract us from news which is becoming increasingly concerning three months after the July elections.
Most Zimbabweans have put their heads down and gone back into self preservation mode. The voices of opposition seem to have largely gone quiet and their sea of red berets that decorated the country just three months ago have all but disappeared.
We are starting to see headlines that we haven’t seen since 2007 such as the dramatic one word that covered the front page of a local daily newspaper. ‘HUNGER’ the Daily News screamed alongside a picture of children picking maize pips off a tar road, spilled by a passing truck.
The UN says 2.2 million Zimbabweans will need food aid in the coming months but already people are hungry and this week MP’s spoke of constituents in many areas down to one meal a day already.
Meanwhile rural villagers who were promised a quartet of crop inputs by government consisting of 10 kgs of seed maize, 50 kgs of lime, 50kgs of Compound D and 50kgs of Ammonium Nitrate are still waiting and it’s almost too late.
Then there’s the very distressing news that three months after the elections the Zanu PF majority government have gone back to their practice of spending more money than they’ve got.
A report on financial performance from the Accountant General’s Department has revealed that in August government expenditure amounted to $314.02 million against an income of only $306.68 million. News like that makes every Zimbabwean go weak at the knees in view of the hyperinflation, repeated devaluation and economic collapse we lived through just five years ago.
And then there’s the frightening news of continued shrinking of industry and manufacturing as more and more companies downsize or close altogether either because there’s not enough business to stay open or because of the oppressive indigenization law. Many Zimbabweans are still very confused about indigenization which isn’t making more jobs but is making more unemployment.
Even more confusing is that we thought indigenisation was supposed to empower indigenous black Zimbabweans who were previously disadvantaged but we see headlines that the Chinese are building a $ 25 million chrome smelter in Selous, and Angola is about to start exploring two diamond fields in Zimbabwe. Who is it then, that qualifies to be a previously disadvantaged, indigenous Zimbabwean?
But there’s good news too and it comes from the town of Kwekwe. The newly elected Mayor, Matenda Madzoke, turned down the brand new US$68,000 4×4 Toyota D Tec that had been ordered for him as the perk of his new position. ‘I’m not going to be driving a brand new expensive vehicle on roads with potholes which are littered with heaps of uncollected refuse and call myself a mayor,’ he said. ‘I was put into office to ensure service delivery and that is going to be my first priority.’ Thank you Mayor Madzoke, you give us hope, please encourage all your colleagues around the country follow suit.
I end with a message of condolence for the families of 24 Zimbabweans who were burnt to death when the truck they were travelling in to a funeral hit a fuel tanker along the Tanganda – Chisumbanje road.
Until next time, thanks for reading, for your wonderful anecdotes of why you love Zimbabwe and for your fantastic support of my new book, love cathy
For information on my latest book: “CAN YOU HEAR THE DRUMS,” or my other books about Zimbabwe: “Innocent Victims,” “African Tears,” “Beyond Tears” and “IMIRE,” or to subscribe/unsubscribe to this letter, please visit my website or contact firstname.lastname@example.org