LETTER: Letter from Nyanga
A decade or so ago Rossland engaged in a series of municipal exchanges with city officials from the city of Nyanga in Zimbabwe. The following letter, by Zimbabwe’s Cathy Buckle, gives an update on life in that part of the world and may be of interest to anyone who remembers the exchanges, or to anyone with an interest in everyday life in another country.
Dear Family and Friends,
What a strange time it is in Zimbabwe this October. After a fortnight of blistering heat in September when even the purple Jacaranda flowers seemed to be melting, records for the time of year were broken. Chiredzi recorded 43 degrees, Masvingo 38 degrees and other centres were all over 30 degrees Celsius. Blankets were off, shorts were on and windows and doors were flung wide open.
It was excessively hot for September, the heat adding to the general depression that continues to suffocate the country after the disputed election. Then overnight everything turned upside down: a thick mist descended, strong winds blew in and day time temperatures plunged back into the teens. In my home town we recorded 7 degrees Celsius in the morning, colder than many of this winter’s mornings. Then it started to rain and all those leaks in the roof that you hadn’t quite finished fixing or the gutters that hadn’t been emptied yet, sent us scurrying around with buckets and ladders, making monkeys of us all.
The Met dept urged people not to start planting, telling us this wasn’t the real rainy season but with over 2 million people already holding out their hands for food aid, rain is rain and everywhere you look people are bent over with hoes digging up roadsides, wetlands and any open spaces they can find. We just don’t seem to be prepared for anything in Zimbabwe, not the weather, not the ability to grow our own food and not the political shockers.
Zanu PF took up their two third majority seats in Parliament and both the House of Assembly and the Senate opened for business. Mr Mugabe announced his new cabinet but there was nothing new about the people he appointed. Same names, same faces and so far it looks very much like the same direction. There’s also nothing new in the way the only TV station in the country reports the news. ZBC continue to call all Zanu PF officials Comrade while everyone else is relegated to being simply Mr or Mrs. It wasn’t long before we got a taste of what’s in store for us under Zanu PF. A Statutory Instrument was gazetted permitting the government’s security agencies to spy on our telephone calls, text messages and internet communications. Instead of a court order being needed to scrutinize people’s private communications, as was previously the case, now it will just need a written request signed by a law enforcer of the rank of Assistant Commissioner to allow for prying eyes. If they weren’t already, Big Brother are really watching us now.
On a day to day level the issue causing most concern is the lack of water and electricity. After months of relatively stable electricity supply, we’re back to regular, unscheduled, unexpected power cuts lasting up to 16 or more hours at a time. The authorities say the power cuts are due to seasonal maintenance but its strangely coincidental that they’ve come on the back of Zanu PF’s election promise of writing off large amounts of outstanding debts on people’s electricity bills. Aside from the multiple thousands of US dollars owed by politicians, new farmers and government figures, all domestic consumers were promised a US$160 credit to their electricity accounts. This was supposed to take effect from the first of October.
Going to buy electricity for my prepaid meter on the third of October, I paid US$50 but was only given US$37 worth of electricity. ‘What about Zanu PF’s election promise of US$ 160 credit?’ I asked.
‘We haven’t received that instruction from our superiors,’ I was told by the ZESA teller.
Broken promises already, but we aren’t surprised. It’s all very reminiscent of police not arresting trespassers and looters from private land saying it was ‘political’ or they hadn’t received instructions from their superiors.
Until next time, thanks for reading.
4th October 2013