Letter from Home – The sovereign state

Dear Family and Friends,

There has been much talk in the state-owned media this week about the fact that Zimbabwe is a sovereign state and will not be dictated to or colonized by anyone, from anywhere, ever again. 99% of news readers on ZBC radio and TV are unable to pronounce the words so

vereign and sovereignty and no one corrects them and so now a whole generation of young Zimbabweans are talking about protecting our sov-er-wren-ity. Adhering to the meaning of the term, however, seems as elusive as the pronunciation because every day now we hear about the involvement of other countries in the basic nitty gritty’s of our day-to-day affairs.

We have a rash of cheap Chinese products ranging from clothes to luggage and tools all over the country already and have Chinese aeroplanes and minibuses moving us around. Last week there was talk of Chinese interest in our thermal power stations and this week we hear of pending “joint ventures” with the Chinese in regard to Tel One (our telephones) NRZ ( our railways) and Hwange (our coal mines). It’s not clear yet what benefits the Chinese will gain from all these joint ventures but so far we hear of pay back involving cobalt and other minerals still buried in our sovereign soil.

Trying to come to grips with it all – the podium banging, the selling of our essence and the mortgaging of our soul – is overwhelming and exhausting, as is our daily life. It is a daily life in Zimbabwe that is so ridiculous that a nervous breakdown seems precariously close almost all the time. It is a daily life dominated by rubber bands – to hold stacks of money together in one, two, five or ten million dollar bundles. A daily life swamped with electricity power cuts – two, four or five hours at a time – sometimes twice a day. A daily life suffocated by a rash of new rules and regulations, bills and prices.

This week we received our second telephone account for this month. The second bill arrived just 10 days after the first one and printed on the top, surrounded by a line of stars, was the legend: “Tariffs have been increased per unit to $18,895.50 W.E.F. {with effect from} 14/06/06. You will receive 2 bills for June 06.” There are no apologies offered – this a government owned company and there are no other fixed line telephone companies in the country so it is simply a case of pay up or get cut off. For the second time in a month the queue snaked out of the door as all the receipts were being written out painfully and laboriously by hand as there was yet another power cut.

Emerging from the freezing cold queue after paying my second phone bill, the sight of what should have been a bustling town on a busy Friday morning at month end was surreal. Almost the entire town had stopped. Sitting on roadsides and pavements, lying on grassy patches, leaning against walls – the whole town was just waiting ever so patiently for the power to come back on. The electricity had been off since 6.30am and finally at 11 am it came back on. Everywhere people started running – to get back into queues for photocopiers, for passport processing, for cash machines, for computers. Life had suddenly been kick started again….and so we stagger on….again. Until next week, thanks for reading, ndini shamwari yenyu.

Post published in: News

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *