Thursday, January 14, 2010

A Merry Xmas in Zimbabwe, finally.

A lot has been said already about the Government of National Unity that currently holds reign in Zimbabwe. Most of us have been quick to label it as the most unholy of alliances and indeed many problems have befallen Bob, Morgy and Arthur. There have been accusations and counter accusations of unfaithfulness and insincerity within the partnership which culminated, not so long ago, in one of the parties “disengaging” (Whatever on Earth that means!) from the GNU.

Spending the December holidays at home after almost a year away, proved to be something of an eye opener. It was refreshing to see supermarkets filled with food at affordable US Dollar and Rand prices, comparable to those charged in neighbouring countries. Tea pots were in full steam at coffee shops as were the braai spots in full smoke, people's faces were bright and cheerful for once after eons of gloom! Actually, the first sign of this improvement in Zimbabwe was made when we drove into Botswana’s Francistown. Conspicuous by their absence were Zimbabwean registered vehicles laden with groceries in the streets and parking bays of this tiny town. I suspect that a similar reduction of cross border shoppers has occurred in South Africa’s border town of Musina.

Indeed, people’s spirits were up and the Christmas spirit of the olden days characterized by shopping and merry making was the order of the day. The increased number of flashy vehicles on the roads, mainly imports from Japan, reflected the improved plight of my country man. It is astounding that less than a year of new governance can bring about such a notable changed in the economic situation. Some companies that ceased to operate over a decade ago have resumed production and foreign investors are creeping in although at a slow pace. I also heaved a sigh of relief that with the disappearance of the Zim dollar, I will no longer be the brunt of irritating and exaggerated jokes and questions about how many bagfuls of Zim dollars I had to carry around when shopping at home and how many millions are equivalent to a Rand.

There is still a lot of work to be done in Zimbabwe, numerous hurdles to be cleared by a cash strapped government. Roads need to be repaired, power supply needs to be increased, the health delivery system is in serious need of a massive boost, as is the case with education. The outstanding issues that the GNU partners continue to gripe about are a hindrance to full scale investment. For many though, as long as there is affordable food on the table, that is more than enough to be thankful for, they will happily dodge the potholes. Some Zimbabweans that left home to do menial, low paying jobs (often as victims of exploitation) in South Africa, Botswana, UK, etc have begun to trickle back home as and when opportunities arise. Some are taking advantage of the now stable economy to invest in new ventures and snap up property and real estate. One sees light at the end of the tunnel as far as the Zim Crisis goes and signs indicate God willing, many of us scattered in the Diaspora will soon make that long yearned for return to that beautiful land that lies yonder, between the Zambezi and the Limpopo.

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