Wednesday, June 27, 2007

Zimbabwe: A snapshot from Cathy Buckle

Anonymous mentioned that he/she thought that it might be a good idea if Iran was reduced to the economic status of Zimbabwe in a previous comment. I thought it might be a good idea to give you an indication of what he was talking about.

From Cathy Buckle's Letters.

From her letter of June 16, 2007

Dear Family and Friends,
I stood for over forty minutes in a line at the bank to withdraw my own money this week - its not unusual to have to queue for even longer than this. There was no electricity - again - so the ATM machines were not working - again. Even if the ATM's were working, those queues often need an hour and a half to get to the front. Because of the oppressive, iron-fist regulations from Harare, individuals are only allowed to withdraw one and a half million dollars at a time from the bank - even if they have just deposited a hundred times that amount the same day. The bank charges a 'handling fee' for the withdrawal of amounts of one and a half million dollars or less but you can cannot withdraw more without applying for permission from the Reserve Bank in Harare.

To put all these figures in perspective, let me explain! You have to stand in a queue in the bank for four days in a row - each day drawing out the maximum amount, each day paying the 'handling fee," in order to purchase one tank of fuel for your car .

Three days of maximum withdrawals will give you enough for one filling at the dentist. By the time you've got enough money together, the prices will have gone up again but for most of us all these things are just dreams anyway because now even a visit to the dentist has become an unaffordable luxury. Who would ever have imagined that a dental visit would be thought of as a luxury!

And this from her latest one - dated June 23, 2007.

...Government agricultural voices have begun warning that quelea birds are preparing to decimate the country's winter wheat crop - the crop that either wasn't planted in the first place or hasn't been watered because there's been no electricity for the irrigation pumps.

We are told that there is only one aeroplane in the country that can be used to spray the birds and apparently four are needed to "cover the whole crop". Its not being said if the whole crop consists of 8 thousand hectares spread out in lots of little squares or if its actually 76 thousand hectares.

Keeping up with both the facts and the propaganda about events in Zimbabwe has become almost impossible as electricity cuts silence all but the most determined and innovative lines of communication. It took a message from outside of Zimbabwe to tell me what our Minister of Lands said this week and for millions of cold, tired and hungry Zimbabweans, they are sickening words. Lands Minister Didymus Mutasa said: "The position is that food shortages or no food shortages, we are going ahead to remove the remaining whites. We would all rather die of hunger but knowing full well that the land is in the hands of black people."
Until next week, thanks for reading, love cathy.

Hard to imagine, isn't it?