News - March 2009





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A new year message

Chinhoyi Arrests

Moral negligence

Who will be answerable for hungry people?

Under cover of darkness

A night of terror


Human Rights Group under attack

Another farmer attacked

Zim Independant
The Standard
Human Rights Forum
ZW News
Eddie Cross letters The Zimbabwe Situation


Chinhoyi Arrests

Moral negligence

Who will be answerable for hungry people?

Under cover of darkness

A night of terror

Daily News
Zim Independant
The Standard
Financial Gazette
Human Rights Forum
ZW News


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Cash budget basis!

Sunday 22nd March 2009

Dear Family and Friends,

A budget which halves spending plans? Promises to uphold the rule of law? A stop to any further farm invasions? A government that will operate on a cash budget basis?

Zimbabwe's government operating on a cash budget basis - this is like some weird, wild, psychedelic dream!

It's hard to believe that these statements can be referring to Zimbabwe but they were made this week by the much respected MDC Finance Minister, Tendai Biti. After nine years of chaos and mayhem, Mr Biti has taken up the task of clearing up Zanu PF's mess and trying to turn the country around. The irony of Mr Biti's words being spoken whilst sitting alongside Mr Mugabe - whose government oversaw the collapse of our economy and imprisoned and accused this very Minister of treason, was not lost on us.

Mr Biti has taken on a seemingly impossible task which will challenge every sector of the government and country. This isn't just about dollars and cents, its about law and order, justice and working within the rules - not things Zimbabwe's leaders are used to.

Will the Police enforce laws impartially and stop claiming that they cannot do anything because an act is deemed "political"? Will farm invaders, including army, police, security personnel and members of the government and Senate stop evicting farmers from their homes and land? Will government Ministers and departments really stay within their budgets and not announce that they've run out of money in two or three month time?

While such monumental tasks face us on a national level, down on the streets life is getting harder and harder for ordinary people. Rents, rates, service charges and utility bills are already amounting to more than what most people are earning in a month. Once the bills are paid nothing is left for food, medicines, school fees or any of the other necessities of life.

A civil servant earning 100 US dollars a month is paying 40 dollars rent, 20 dollars for water, 20 for telephone, 20 for municipal charges and 20 for electricity. This leaves a balance of minus 20 before the month has even started or a mouthful of food bought. It is an unsustainable situation. This week a notice appeared on the doors of ZESA - the electricity suppliers. All residents who have not paid their accounts, are to be disconnected in two days time This is despite the fact that bills have not been presented or meters read for over a year.

Despite all the hardships of everyday life, a feeling of hope continues to persist in Zimbabwe. Some people are still packing up and leaving but more are trying to hold on and give this a chance to work. I will be taking a short break for a few weeks and wish all Zimbabweans, wherever you are in the world, a Happy Easter.
Until next time, thanks for reading, love cathy

Shocking legacy

Tuesday 17th March 2009

Dear Family and Friends,
Its been a month now since Zimbabwe's unity government took office and this seems an appropriate point to record the changes that are affecting everyday life.

The economy is now running completely on US dollars and the prices of most goods are still two, three or sometimes even four times more expensive than in our neighbouring countries. But, on the positive side, more and more shops have got products back on their shelves so at least now we can find food - even if we can't afford most of it! Basic economic rules of supply and demand and competition are coming back into play and forcing the outrageous profiteers to back down. Seeing shelves stocked with food is such a shock that we still stand and stare wide-eyed at the sight of tins and packets and bottles. For such a long time we've been scavenging, scrounging, bartering and just going without that seeing food for sale again makes us realize the terrible abuse that was inflicted upon us by the previous leadership.

Another positive development has come for civil servants who have begun receiving a small monthly salary in US dollars, and a top up in Zimbabwe dollars. Frankly the top up in Zim dollars is a waste of time and utterly useless as there is nothing at all that you can buy in local currency - not even a single banana or cup of ground nuts from a woman on the roadside. The US dollar amounts being paid to civil servants is nowhere near enough, is not linked to people's qualifications and is not comparable to salaries being paid for the same work in the region, but it is a start.

I had to visit a Police station recently and seeing the appalling circumstances under which these men and women have to work is truly shocking. Ceilings falling in, broken tables, chairs collapsing and without backs, no stationery, nowhere for people to sit, doors falling out of their frames, roadways almost unusable because of deep gullies and potholes. This situation is similar in almost all government buildings and is another shocking legacy left by the previous leadership.

In the last month utilities, licences and other urban service fees have gone through the roof and despite our paying in US dollars no changes are yet noticeable on the ground. Garbage is still not being collected (its been a year now) roads are a maze of deep potholes, street lights still don't work and sewage continues to run openly in some streets. Water and waste management is in a perilous place and the handing back of assets, tools, chemicals and other equipment by ZINWA (controlled by government) to the local municipalities has opened a writhing can of worms. Water pumps have gone missing, chemicals have vanished and assets which actually belong to the ratepayers, have simply disappeared. We are told by the incoming MDC officials that legal action is being taken and that people will be held to account. This promise is a breath of fresh air but actions speak louder than words!

It's very early days and a mountain of decay, corruption and plain thievery stands in the path but the feeling of hope continues to grow. Change must come from the top, the middle and the bottom; we're ready at the bottom!
Until next week, thanks for reading, love cathy

Susan Tsvangirai, thank you

Dear Family and Friends,
It was with great sadness and sorrow that Zimbabweans heard of the death of Mrs Susan Tsvangirai in a car crash on Friday the 6th March 2009.

It is with deep regret that most of us had not even begun to know Susan Tsvangirai, the wife of our Prime Minister and mother of their six children. Ordinary Zimbabweans saw only glimpses of a quiet, humble, smiling woman: laughing in the kitchen with her husband; sitting next to him at political gatherings; singing in church alongside her husband after he had been sworn in as Prime Minister.

There is a heavy and sombre mood in the country as the reality of this tragedy sinks in. Our hearts go out to this family who have endured so much, suffered so much and made so many personal sacrifices in the struggle to put Zimbabwe back on the road to democracy, freedom and prosperity.

I join Zimbabweans all over the world in sending my condolences to Morgan Tsvangirai and the families, friends and relations of Susan Tsvangirai. I wish I could have thanked her for the courage, strength and determination she must surely have shown herself and given in support of her husband as they never gave up in the struggle for the new Zimbabwe.

Susan Tsvangirai, thank you.

Until next time, thanks for reading, love cathy

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