Sunday, July 05, 2009

Cathy Buckle's Weekly Letter from Zimbabwe !


Dear Family and Friends,

After weeks of peculiarly warm weather which wasn't winter but wasn't
summer, people had begun commenting that even the trees were confused!
A large, old Msasa tree standing alone on an urban street corner
suddenly dropped all its leaves and produced a glorious canopy of new
red leaves. It's a good six weeks too early and the precious new
growth is exposed to a winter which has now finally arrived. In one
freezing night a bitter wind bought our belated winter. For the first
time ever in my memory the water in my birdbath turned to ice
overnight and didn't thaw until mid morning. A cold wind, drizzle,
mist and grey skies are now the order of our highveld winter days. In
this atmosphere a cruel and heartless act was undertaken in my home

The word being used on the street in my neighbourhood is
"Murambatsvina." People were comparing the cruelty of events this week
to the government's massive human evictions of mid winter 2005.

ZESA, the government controlled electricity supply company went door
to door and disconnected people's electricity. Working in pairs, they
walked through residential neighbourhoods and house by house they
switched people off. In the road where I live, 90% of homes were
disconnected on a freezing July afternoon. The picture was repeated
across town. Families with babies in the house were not spared; homes
with sick and disabled occupants were switched off; homes with elderly
people in their 90's were disconnected. There was no mercy or
compassion, no compromise or humanity - just like it had been in
Operation Murambatsvina.
Worst affected were civil servants who earn just 100 US dollars a
month. Not even these dedicated professionals who could be earning ten
times their wage if they left the country were spared. Their
patriotism was punished with the flick of a switch

Since February most civil servants have been paying 10 or 20 US
dollars a month to ZESA for their electricity. This is all, if not
more than they can afford on a salary of 100 dollars, it is 10 or 20%
of their wage. Zesa say it's not enough and are demanding massive and
backdated amounts ranging from 250 to 500 US dollars for small
residential homes.

The reality of the disconnections is very cruel. Teachers at work all
day educating our children are coming home an hour before dark and
having to light fires outside to cook on, to heat water for bathing
and washing and then have to sit and mark books by candle light.
Four months into our supposedly new and improved Zimbabwe the sound
of wood chopping fills the air, smoke constantly rises and women
stream out of the bush with mounds of newly cut Msasa branches
balanced on their heads. Shame on you ZESA!

Until next week, thanks for reading, love cathy.



Anonymous scared of miss frazer said...

i think you used to be a librarian at my old school. i have often wondered what is happening in zimbabwe now, and now i have found you blog; i intend to read it every week. i have no idea what happened to our old domestic servants.........people who practically bought me up. i suppose they are all dead. anyhow i am glad your life has become so relevant; you are definately very famous and spokes person for all the people who cant speak in zimbabwe. you come a long way from filing books in a library. i still remember your guidence classes. they were good. wish you taught my kids now...........the subjects you taught us are still relevant today.

12:37 pm  

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