No laughing matter


imageimageMuch as Zimbabwe’s ability to laugh at itself is to be applauded, the lighter side of the 18- hour 4.00 a.m. to 10.00 p.m. power cuts isn’t a laughing matter any longer.

The neighbour’s young daughter gets up in the dark to get ready for work and comes home to darkness, father goes to the bar up the road and there is unholy kuk in the family when he returns by 10.00 p.m. to catch up on a bit of television before falling asleep in his armchair.

The local satellite TV provider is inundated with subscribers demanding rebates for providing six hours of broadcasts only in the middle of the night. Our programming is 24/7; your electricity isn’t our problem, it tells them.

People are queuing with containers at petrol stations for fuel for generators and LP gas. Children carry smaller gas canisters on their heads. The whistling camping kettle is selling well to save gas by switching it off as soon as the water boils.

‘Keep Calm. Be Zimbabwean and Make a Plan,’ says Paola Thompson’s photo of a sign typical of the country’s history of resilience to crisis. But what if there is no money to make that plan? Few can afford upwards of $10 dollars a day for diesel and another $80 for a generator service after 300 hours of runtime. Without a bank of expensive back up batteries, the standard battery on a solar powered inverter won’t last more than about 12 hours.

Whoever it was who once said Africa will survive any future nuclear holocaust because many inhabitants already live in post-holocaust conditions of destruction and deprivation was laughed at.

Question: What did Zimbabwe use before candles? Answer: Electricity.


A selfie by the Zimbabwe Electricity Supply Authority

Not funny any more.

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