4th April 2014
Dear Family and Friends,
Eight months after Zimbabwe’s elections a weary resignation has settled over the country. Internal fighting and jostling for positions has become the order of the day in the opposition party, while accusations, finger pointing and faction fighting in the ruling party makes daily headlines. All this has left people who sacrificed so much and struggled for so long feeling betrayed and bewildered, wondering which way Zimbabwe is headed.
Most companies from hardware and clothing stores to butcheries and bookshops are saying that sales have never been so low or business so quiet. There’s just hardly any money around as we slip backwards to the way things were before the unity government in 2009. Already the government’s desire to control our lives is increasing insecurity in our shaky economy. The Minister of Agriculture has just announced that all import and export licences of fruit and vegetables have been cancelled. In a confusing, convoluted statement Minister Joseph Made said: “All import permits have been cancelled. This is pending the return of the old permits to the ministry so that new ones can be issued.” We still haven’t got our heads around that, nor do we know when or if new licences will be issued, who to and for what products. In a country whose fourteen year old land reform programme has left us importing one million US dollars worth of fruit and veg every month from South Africa, we’re all very worried about what we’ll find in the supermarkets when we go shopping in the coming weeks.
Despite its timing, the agriculture ministers statement wasn’t an April Fools joke, nor was the appointment of the new head of the Zimbabwe Football Association. Unbelievably Mr Cuthbert Dube was re-elected to head ZIFA for the next four years despite the association having incurred a six million US dollar debt during his last term at the helm. Dube’s re-election to head ZIFA is even more puzzling considering he’s been making headlines for months due to his massive salary of 230,000 US dollars a month while engaged in his day job as the head of Premier Medical Aid Society.
But wait, it gets even weirder. Shortly after his re-election as the head of ZIFA, the BBC reported on Mr Dube’s revolutionary plan to turn around the fortunes of ZIFA. Dube said he had asked the government to give ZIFA several farms around the country so that they could rear livestock and grow crops to in order to stop having to rely on sponsors. Dube said: “Maybe some people will ask if I’m alright in my head, but we are going to diversify into farming in a very big way. “ It seems ZIFA also don’t understood that farmers are farmers, football players are football players and politicians are politicians. Giving a man a big hat and tractor doesn’t make him a farmer just as giving him a ball doesn’t make him a national football player
After a crazy week came the other news we hoped was an April Fools joke but wasn’t and it came from SW Radio Africa. They’ve been forced to reduce the length of their nightly short wave radio broadcasts to Zimbabwe by half and cut all their weekend radio broadcasts. For so long SW Radio Africa have been our voice; they’ve listened to our struggles, heard our views and kept us up to date on news and developments. Now their coffers are shrinking and although their programming continues on the internet, the vast majority of Zimbabweans don’t have access to that technology. For the people in Zimbabwe who sit around battery powered, wind up radios in urban and rural areas, there’s a hole in our lives. We hope it will be temporary. Until next time, thanks for reading,