Time is running backwards in Zimbabwe



Excessive power outages, food losses, disrupted water supplies, stolen cables and more… Time is running backwards in Zimbabwe, writes Cathy Buckle.


Early in the morning, when the clouds are smeared pink, the chorus of dawn fills Zimbabwe’s cool air – robins and flycatchers and the koo-ku-ing of red-eyed pigeons.

As the sun illuminates the horizon, a pair of mousebirds perch atop a bush, long tails damp with dew, faces turned toward the sun, waiting to catch the first warming rays.

You simply must pause and soak in this brief illusion of normality whenever you can, as it will soon be replaced by what has become the nightmare of living in Zimbabwe again in January 2023.

life in Zimbabwe

Power outages lasting 18 to 20 hours a day, food rotting in hot fridges and freezers, water only coming out of the tap every two or three weeks, internet cables being dug up and stolen in the darkness of power outages, causing communications for hundreds of people are left homes away for days and weeks at a time.

We thought we put all of that behind us with the departure of Robert Mugabe, but now, a few months before our next election, we are back exactly where we were.

Time seems to be running backwards in Zimbabwe.

Where are we headed?

Driving east on the main road this week, a glimpse of a guinea fowl and a line of seven or eight chicks running across the road and then disappearing into the lush green grass gave a moment to smile.

Traveling is a good time to reflect on where we are going as a country.

Gift Mugano, a visiting lecturer in economics at the University of Zimbabwe Business School, said the economic outlook for 2023 was bleak, according to an Al Jazeera article.

“The year 2023 will be very bad…Zimbabwe is entering a very volatile social and economic period…”

We are not at all surprised to hear these words as in reality we live by them.

The exchange rate is rising again and is now around Z$900-950 for a single US dollar. That’s a bizarre sentence, just like this one: A single loaf of bread now costs nearly a thousand dollars. How on earth do we survive this?

food… or metal?

Almost as bizarre as a thousand dollars a loaf of bread is the news that broke just before Christmas that 3,000 beneficiaries of the state’s land reform were threatened with eviction from farmland given to them by the Chegutu government.

The new farmers are apparently being evicted to make way for a platinum project.

The same land was confiscated from commercial farmers by the government in 2000 and so we can only question what on earth land reform was all about as the vicious cycle continues.

lithium hunter

Meanwhile, desperate times on the other side of the country have prompted desperate measures – thousands of “lithium hunters” have invaded Goromonzi North to mine for lithium.

Lithium has become the new “gold rush” in Zimbabwe, with reports from many places of people digging it up and selling the ore for US$10 a barrow load.

Huge lithium mines are now operational from Bikita to Buhera, Mbereggwa to Manicaland and Mashonaland.

Just before Christmas, President Emmerson Mnangagwa opened a new lithium mine in Buhera, shortly after which the government banned the export of crude lithium ore.

Back in Goromonzi, security forces were deployed to control lithium hunters and in one area, villagers were banned from mining lithium and then loudly news daythe government awarded the mining concessions to Chinese companies.

And further north, my feet planted firmly on the plain old earth, I stopped by to see a friend who had proudly planted rows of fruit trees and hundreds of tomato plants to help feed the elderly.

Devastated, I found all his hard work gone, shielded by someone who had laid claim to the land.

He was stripped – but wore plastic flip flops and shorts and started again.

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This article first appeared on Moneyweb and has been republished with permission. Read the original article here.

Cathy Buckle does not write her blog Letters from Zimbabwe as an academic, expert or historian, but as an ordinary woman living in a small town in Zimbabwe. Your letters will be published first on www.cathybuckle.co.zw

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