Sleeping Like a Hare Millions Billions Trillions    
African Tears Beyond Tears Innocent Victims Imire Can you hear the drums, by Cathy Buckle

We have not forgotten
October 23, 2010, 7:53 am



Dear Family and Friends,

Both Mr Mugabe and Mr Tsvangirai are openly talking about elections being held in 2011. Just the word “elections” reminds us of the hell of 2008: a time and place we never want to go back to. 

In January 2008 we were all going across our borders to buy basic supplies because our own shops were empty thanks to government price controls which had resulted in all production coming to a halt. My own shopping list on a trip to South Africa had dozens of items on it and included flour, rice, beans, tinned goods, sugar, salt, margarine, cooking oil, tea, milk powder and even toilet paper.

In February 2008 the monthly salary of civil servants and people in general employment was only enough to purchase one single loaf of bread and a two litre bottle of cooking oil. In March a loaf of bread cost 7 million dollars and a dozen eggs were 30 million dollars. In reality these prices were actually in the billions but Reserve Bank Governor Gideon Gono removed zeros from the currency just before the elections. On the 29th March Zimbabwe voted. After casting his ballot Mr Mugabe said: “The moment the people stop supporting you, then that’s the moment you should quit politics.”

Throughout April 2008 the election results were not announced and a tsunami of violence swamped the country. Newspaper headlines screamed: “Murder, torture, terror” and “Hundreds flee Zanu PF.” 

In May 2008, 5 weeks after the poll, election results were finally announced. The MDC had won the majority of seats in parliament and Mr Tsvangirai had more votes than Mr Mugabe in the Presidential vote. It was announced that the Presidential majority wasn’t large enough and another poll was to be held. Violence swept across the land and multiple thousands of people were killed, maimed and tortured for “voting the wrong way.” A loaf of bread soared in price to 40 million dollars.

A run off Presidential ballot was held in June 2008; Mr Mugabe was the only candidate as Mr Tsvangira pulled out because of widespread violence. One man at my local hospital arrived with two broken arms, a broken leg and a fractured skull; he was accused of having supported the MDC. On the 29th June 2008 Mr Mugabe was again declared the President of Zimbabwe.

In July 2008 hundreds of people arrived at foreign embassies in Harare begging for sanctuary and humanitarian assistance. The MDC said that at least a quarter of a million people had been displaced from their homes by violence. The Reserve Bank Governor set a maximum daily withdrawal limit from banks of 100 billion dollars. At that time a five day penicillin-based antibiotic cost 2 trillion dollars. There was no bread to buy and a single scone cost 140 billion dollars. 5000 people a day were arriving every day at a Home Affairs refugee reception centre in South Africa.

In August 2008, five months after the elections, Zimbabwe was still in limbo with no parliament and no MP’s having been sworn in. In September Zimbabwe began hearing about power sharing where losers became winners and vice versa.

October 2008 saw inflation at 231 million percent and there were only cabbages and condoms to buy in major supermarkets. There was no seed maize or fertilizer to buy as the rainy season began and in November 2008 hospitals didn’t even have disposable gloves let alone medicines, drips or bandages.

Two years later we don’t have democracy, but thanks to an MDC Finance Minister who put the brakes on, we do have imported food in the shops, US dollars in our purses and inflation under 10%. Zimbabwe has not forgotten the hell of 2008, who took us there and who brought us back. Until next time, thanks for reading, love cathy

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