NEWS

GLIMMERS OF LIGHT IN DARKNESS2008-02-05

You all know of the ever-escalating inflation (70,000 -150,000% p.a.), shortages of food, water, electricity, fuel and other supplies which have crippled Zimbabwe. Did you know that some people are still managing to make obscene amounts of money out of the situation? Are you aware that there is a thriving housing market, as everyone wants to put their cash into something which will keep most of its value?

You know that thousands are risking all to cross the borders, mainly to South Africa, in desperate attempts to escape: 'anything must be better than this'. But did you know that some people with the means to leave Zimbabwe are still there, committed to helping their neighbours, rooted to their country, and determined to make a change?

Numbers of orphans are rising at an alarming rate. Many die but some are cared for by their local community as best they can, in a culture which still sees all children as their collective responsibility.

There may be only a few hours of electricity each week, no safe water through the city pipes, and sewage in some streets and homes, but that few hours of electricity can still be used to fill a water tank from the borehole, and then shared out amongst the community. It is no less than miraculous that disease has not become epidemic, considering the lack of sanitation, medical care and nutrition.

The law changes almost weekly, sometimes without warning, and so you have to be constantly on your toes. The latest was a prohibition against carrying more than the value of 2 commuter bus fares on your person at any one time.

Using the 'official' exchange rate, a basic loaf of bread would cost £18.33, but using the 'parallel' (market forces) rate it would cost more like 11p!

In this environment, Zimbabweans have proved to be immensely resourceful and adaptable. Anyone would have expected complete shutdown, mass starvation and riots. But, somehow, people are keeping on going. These peaceful people are being gradually ground down. The worry is that by the time desperation inspires dramatic action, they won't have the physical or emotional strength.

If you are interested in following up-to-date news about Zimbabwe we recommend www.thezimbabwean.co.uk

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