Cathy Buckle’s letter from Zimbabwe

Dear Family and Friends,
The ticking of�Zimbabwe’s time bomb�is getting louder and faster by the day. Power sharing talks have again collapsed;�cholera is�spreading and the death toll rising; teachers, nurses and doctors are demanding payment in US dollars in order to report for duty�and the poverty of most families is growing worse by the day.
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There is now�nothing you can buy in Zimbabwe dollars as even roadside vegetable vendors have resorted to selling their wares in US dollars or South African Rand. A handful of tomatoes, a�bunch of onions,�half a� dozen bananas or even a�single, sweet, sticky�mango� – all are�priced in American dollars.�If you don’t have foreign currency you go hungry, it’s�as simple as that. You also go sick,�can’t get a bed in a private hospital,�can’t have a baby, can’t get on a bus, can’t get a passport, can’t�even buy a packet of headache pills.
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The only thing you can do with Zimbabwe dollars,��if you can�get them out of the bank, is�pay your telephone, water, and electricity bills. The authorities running�Zimbabwe continue to refuse to allow the utilities�companies to charge in US dollars and so the services they�provide have deteriorated to the point of almost complete collapse. Stick thin employees at parastatals wearing threadbare suits continue to report for work�while everything around them falls apart. They have no stationery to invoice customers, no receipt books, no ink for computers.�They�have no answers to the increasingly angry�queries�from their customers such as why have�dustbins�not been collected for eight months; when are blocked sewer pipes going to be cleared, when are cavernous pot holes on the roads going to be filled. These civil servants have little�reason to go to work anymore and it seems only a matter of time before they�just don’t bother anymore.���
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For people without foreign currency life has become a living hell. A government teacher I met showed me her December pay slip. Her monthly salary was 10 trillion dollars. The exchange rate on the day� meant that in a month she had earned just one US dollar. I asked her if she would be returning to the classroom when schools re-open and she said no. She said the bus fare to get to her school on the first day alone would cost her�one US dollar, and then how would she get home, what would she have to eat, how would she get to school the next day.�
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Zimbabweans are looking to SADC and the African Union in the days ahead. Surely soon they will have to say: enough suffering, enough death, enough?