Tanaka and the tortoise – Zimbabwe in a nutshell


“A bus service runs from place A to B. The driver is one Tanaka who is on a renewable contract. After a while, the bus comes back every month with something missing – a wing mirror, a headlamp, the ticket dispenser and even the steering wheel. Sometimes Tanaka has accidents which cost a large amount of money to repair.

“In all of this, Tanaka himself and his friends and family appear to prosper. They buy taxis and run other businesses on the side. The people who own the bus don’t dare ask Tanaka why he is prospering when the bus is falling to pieces. The people who own the bus keep renewing his contract until he crashes it completely.

“But by now the people who own the bus are bullied, cajoled and beaten into giving Tanaka and his cronies another five year contract to get the bus back on the road. ”


Zimbabwe  central bank governor John Mangudya is probably a sincere man over the proposed bond notes but it is the ‘mafia’ who put him and others in the position of ” a fence post tortoise” that people should worry about.

“When you are driving down a country road and you come across a fence post with a tortoise balanced on top, that’s ‘a fence post tortoise,’ you know he didn’t get up there by himself, he doesn’t belong up there, he doesn’t know what to do up there except wave his legs, he is elevated beyond his ability to do anything at all and you just have to wonder which dumb arse put him up there in the first place”

(Acknowledgement: In these times of extreme confusion in Zimbabwe, l have paraphrased these two short but clear images taken from a lengthy current analysis written by the admirable Japanese journalist, academic and Africa specialist Ken Yamamoto.)

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