Christmas in Zimbabwe is about towering purple clouds and torrential downpours. Hail stones rattling on the roof. Green, the colour of life, growth and production.
Mushrooms emerging to nourish and decorate the newly wet ground.
Streams reappearing and rivers starting to move. Silver trickles of water running down black granite rocks and kopjes. Puddles and mud, millipedes and beetles.
Mangoes, big and orange, sweet, sticky and juicy. Huge watermelons, red, sweet and irresistible.
This year …
Christmas in Zimbabwe 2022 is about the roar of generators everywhere as we run out of electricity. Farmers using 800 litres of diesel a day to irrigate crops.
Power that’s off for 18 to 20 hours a day, every day. Industry that is ‘dead.’
“We are dead; we are not functional, we are not managing … 18 hours [a day] of no power is not sustainable,” Confederation of Zimbabwe Industries President Kurai Matsheza told ZimLive.
Water that comes out of taps once every 10 days if you’re lucky.
On-call doctors who sleep in their cars at the main government hospital in Harare. Hospitals with chronic shortages of basic medicines and ‘sundries’ such as cannulas, syringes, cotton wool, gloves, antiseptic, catheters, urine bags. Hospitals with leaking roofs, broken machines, patients dying from “preventable illnesses”, as the Zimbabwe Hospital Doctors Association told NewsDay Zimbabwe.
Farmers selling fertiliser given to them as ‘free inputs’ by the government.
Zimbabwe is still listed in first place on Steve Hanke’s annual inflation dashboard at 397%, miles ahead of the next contender Venezuela (185%) and Cuba (158%).
Six months before elections – when medical services are on the brink, electricity is on the brink, water supply is on the brink, and we have the highest food inflation in the world – the Zimbabwe government is giving cabinet members US$500 000 (close to R8.7 million) each, deputies US$350 000 (R6 million), MPs US$40 000 (R694 000) and calling them ‘loans.’
Who’s fooling who?
I end my column this year with a message of sincere thanks to you for reading and sharing my words, and for caring about our country.
I have little to give you in return except for my words and pictures and hope, always hope, that things will get better. Please visit my blog over the next fortnight to see the 12 little stories and pictures I am publishing every few days in the weeks before Christmas to share with you some of the wild, weird, frightening and beautiful things in Zimbabwe.
Copyright © Cathy Buckle