Thursday, December 04, 2008

Falling apart

The heading is not about me but Zimbabwe the country. Since I last wrote on the so-called "historic" powersharing agreement basically no progress in implementing it has been made. What on Earth made them sign the paper without first having allocated ministries and powers goes beyond me, I know I never would have.

So while the discussions drag on Zim is at an accelerating rate becoming a non-functioning country. Since a couple of months almost all shops are "licensed forex retailers" meaning they sell almost all goods in USD instead of zimdollar. The zimdollar has become so worthless we have stopped trying to keep count on the number of zeroes one is supposed to use while issuing a cheque. Once more cash is so hard to get by that prices for things sold in zimdollar have 2 prices: one for cash and one for any form of bank/account payment.

But this is still nothing compared to the more worrying developments. Most public schools have been closed for quite some time as the teachers find it pointless to go to work for salaries that are worthless. The health sector is now hit by the same phenomena, nurses and doctors no longer come to work. Public hospitals have no medicines or staff. Private hospitals only treat you or admit you if you pay cash upfront in hard currency. Unless you happen to have a medical insurance NOT issued in Zimbabwe, the local medical schemes are now worthless.

Thanks to this people with treatable diseases die. That is the long and the short of it.

Pharmacies charge prices easily twice what medicines cost in neighbouring countries. I can go on.

Access to clean water has collapsed in most cities after the national water authority Zinwa was formed some years ago. Harare has slowly got to a situation where some suburbs has not had city water for months. It should come as no surprise that we have a cholera outbreak with hundreds of dead and thousands sick. In the midst of this the whole capital went dry for a couple of days as Zinwa ran out of treatment chemicals.

The latest was when soldiers in Harare and Mutare lost patience with trying to get money from the bank (yes, we still have a daily withdrawal limit that is still worthless) and basically robbed and looted. Whether this is a sign of the troops finally losing faith in the rulers or a plot to declare a state of emergency is an ongoing discussion.

Welcome to the festive season 2008, Zim style
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