What a mess

Heartfelt thanks for all your greetings and good wishes on my 67th birthday. It was a blast of a day.
With all the world’s troubles, it is somehow comforting to know – using a golfing expression – we have played the first nine holes and were are now “on the back nine.”
A few more obstacles on the course now, making retirement in Zimbabwe much less agreeable than it was a couple of years ago. I have been in two queues this morning, one at the cash machine and the other for petrol.
Mr Mugabe has been off on his travels again … this week to an AfroArab summit in Equatorial Guinea. It was a climate conference in Morocco last week. There are more pressing issues at home. But if I was in his shoes, I would jump on a plane to get away at any opportunity too. At 92, he has been on at least 30 foreign trips this year, most of them long haul. There is a bed for him on the plane and the hum of the engines is rather like sleeping in a room with the air-conditioning on, one flight technician tells me.
Who is running the country? It appears no one is. Mr Mugabe’s elite have the knives out for each other and corruption is sky high, going like a Boeing, as they say, not that there’s much left to steal. Little things like finding butter in the shops for the first time in three months become a big deal.


From an earlier post on www.angus-shaw.com

The Horn of Plenty is empty now
In a bank queue the other day when the money ran out. It prompted a swell of anger and discontent, unusually heated for normally placid Zimbabweans. “It’s down to the final lap now,’’ shouted one man. Everyone agreed the cash crisis will be fatal in the end. But one lady helpfully suggested it might be the final lap of a qualifying round and not of the race itself, the main event.

The Reserve Bank building (above) looks splendid like this, bathed in the golden light of sunrise streaming in from the east. It is designed to symbolise the ancient reed basket used to carry abundant crops and the village granary for storing them. It also symbolises an upended maize cob, the source of wellbeing and sufficiency in food, the very Horn of Plenty, the cornucopia filled to the brim.

The Horn of Plenty is empty now and that is bound to be fatal too unless there are radical changes in economic policy.
Already, petrol stations are limiting plastic money purchases, supermarkets give less and less in ‘cash back,’ if any at all, and international airlines are not selling full fares on local plastic, our ‘virtual money.’

It simply can’t go on like this. Or can it? Since Venezuela’s president Hugo Chavez popped his clogs in 2013, his country has declined to where Zimbabwe was in 2008 – empty shops, acute shortages of medicine and massive inflation with no end in sight. Chavez’s successor Nicolas Maduro has been forced to start talks with his fractious opposition after street protests showed no sign of stopping. Protesters are planning a march this Thursday to the presidential palace in Caracas, sealed off by the military and police since the attempted overthrow of Chavez in 2002.
Maduro will go only when the country reaches rock bottom, wherever that is.

Zimbabwe may seem near rock bottom,  near meltdown, but how do you explain the ‘ultimate braai’ at Alex Sports Club last Saturday? The day-long barbecue, sponsored by Castle Lager, attracted 5,000 people who listened to Oliver Mtukudzi and a top musical line-up while guzzling beer and eating their way through 10 tons of meat.

Not quite meltdown just yet …

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