Tuesday, March 15, 2005


Harare election blog: Food fears
In the run-up to Zimbabwe's parliamentary elections on 31 March, 22-year-old receptionist Lucy Gomo (not her real name) is keeping a diary about life in Harare. Tuesday 15 March
A huge rain storm on Saturday has brought some relief to us in the Harare heat. I was shocked to see three guys walking outside my office wearing T-shirts showing an open palm - the symbol of the opposition But water has been a source of complaint, as most homes in the low-density areas of the capital were without water for three days last week. My cousin, who lives in these northern suburbs, says it's quite common for the water to be cut off there. Meanwhile, rumours about maize meal, sugar and cooking oil shortages are making people jittery, especially those with large families. The police have been checking garages to make sure petrol - which costs about $3,600 Zimbabwean dollars (70 US cents) a litre - is not being hoarded. I've not seen any evidence of fuel shortages so far: there are long queues each morning as I wait to catch my buses to work - but this has always been the case. There never seems to be enough transport.
Yesterday I was shocked to see three guys walking outside my office wearing opposition white, red and black T-shirts showing an open palm - the symbol for the Movement for Democratic Change (MDC). They didn't seem worried about wearing them at all, but it's unusual to see people casually supporting the opposition unless they're gathered in numbers at a political meeting.
There are reports of many Zanu-PF rallies outside the capital. On the other hand, ruling party supporters - usually young men - go about their business around town wearing white T-shirts with black Zanu-PF slogans slashed across them. I usually see them when I pop into the town centre as I did over the weekend to check my emails at an internet café where I have an account. It costs Z$250 (5 US cents) a minute to log on - and the café was packed, with most of the 50 computers being used. I've heard there are political meetings for both Zanu-PF and MDC going on and the state-run Herald newspaper says there have been plenty of Zanu-PF rallies outside Harare - some taking place in schools - where large donations are given.
A friend of mine phoned to say she'd tracked down a cleaning product similar to the one I usually use - which I had been fruitlessly searching for - in a shopping centre near where she works. So instead of going to church this Sunday, I spent the day washing, ironing... and cleaning the stove.


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