Monday, August 24, 2009

Thoughts on Africa

Interesting article from BBC on Africa and poverty:
In the same vein Barack Obama has made some statements:
A Zimbabwean friend of mine commented "it takes a goffal to call a spade a spade".

Friday, August 21, 2009

Not much to write about

I was actually asked why I have not updated the blog for some time. Well at least that means that it is being read by one person!

I guess the reason is that sometimes life just sort of goes on. The winter in Zimbabwe has been continued awfully cold, good thing we have plenty of firewood after taking down 6 dead trees.

No new house woes except for a TV gone dead. Constant power blackouts and surges are not nice to your electronics, that is something we have learnt the hard way. After much searching we found a guy who said he could fix it. That is now 2 months ago I think and he is at the moment "waiting for spare parts" since 3 weeks or so. I strongly suspect the truth is that it is beyond repair (in Zimbabwe at least) but he doesn't want to admit it.

Good thing that at the time I asked if any Swede leaving the country were selling their TV! One lady called and said she had an old but large and good TV. But she was not selling it until she was leaving in August. I told her to please come back to me as she basically did not ask for any money to talk about.

Last week she called, on Sunday we picked it up. Mia and syster Cynthia had to do all carrying as I was suffering from lumbago. As she had said it is an old Philips TV but large screen, good picture and no faults we have found. Bingo! Moved the "kids TV" back to their bedroom and they have hardly been off Playstation since.

In Zimbabwe the somewhat limping unity government continues amid constant infighting. Maybe it should be called non-unity government? However, most of us still enjoy the slow progress and every small step towards "normalcy" that takes place.

Some things are plain weird though. Like City of Harare insisting on residents paying water bills in areas that have not had city water for the past 2-3 years.. excuse but paying for WHAT now? The idea being that if we do not pay they can not fix the system so we can get water. Hm, never heard that logic before, once water come back will I then get x months of free water?

Same goes for newly introduced system of road tolls on major highways. Most of them are in awful shape yet we are supposed to pay for using them... I have never before heard of paying tolls BEFORE a highway is fixed. From all my experience you either use tax money for maintenance or you let a commercial entity fix the road and that company then charge toll for that.

Another "funny" one - TelOne (only fixed phoneline supplier) announces proudly that they will introduce a new billing and reading system. Cause the existing one is in shambles and have not survived hyperinflation, new currency etc. Fine with me. But they still send skyhigh bills to everyone and insist on full payment without any proof of usage, metering etc. Que? We pay an amount every month that I consider reasonable, no more. They want to cut us off fine go ahead. Have not heard of anyone they have actually cut - they need every dollar and they know it.

My final rant for today: cellphone rates. All 3 providers in Zimbabwe have had their rates approved by referring to "regional rates". Nonsense, in short. Don't know who helped them to establish those rates but they are way higher than neighbouring countries.

Two very simple examples: In Mozambique I have a local "pay as you go" sim-card. When I am there I buy a 4-dollar top-up. I get 100 free sms (local) on that. I hardly ever use the full amount in a week even though I sms to Zimbabwe once or twice a day and make local phonecalls.
In Zambia I also have a local card. I normally buy 2 dollar top-up for a week! No free sms but I can sms to Zimbabwe once or twice daily and make some local calls.
In Zimbabwe it is no problem to spend 5-10 us dollar in less than a week. Only on local calls and sms.
Regional rates my foot.