Dear Family and Friends,
Most nights between 11pm and midnight a Spotted Eagle Owl patrols my neighbourhood. He’s a big grey and brown owl with bright yellow eyes and distinct ear tufts but it’s his haunting, Hu – huuu call that alerts me to his presence in or near my garden. The arrival of the owl often comes at just about the time the electricity is switched on and I think that in the years ahead whenever I hear the Spotted Eagle Owl hooting I will always remember these darkest of days when my home country was collapsing. It is a time when the losers of an election held eight months ago are still clinging onto power even though they cannot even provide the most basic requirements of life..
If we are lucky nowadays the electricity comes on in the middle of the night when we are asleep. It doesn’t last long. On good nights we have maybe five hours of electricity before it goes off for the next 19 hours. It is impossible to run a home, business or institution with just a fifth of our power needs. The electricity supply (ZESA) is a government run enterprise and is in a state of almost complete collapse. Zesa no longer send bills to customers – they say they have no paper on which to print the accounts. You have to volunteer payment, usually guessing what you owe, or risk disconnection – leaving you without even those four or five hours of power in the middle of the night. This week the government run ZESA refused to accept cheques from customers – customers who are paying them for not supplying electricity.
Water supply, controlled by ZINWA, a government enterprise, has collapsed everywhere and this week came the chilling news from Medicens Sans Frontiers that one million people in Harare alone are currently at risk from Cholera. In cities, towns and villages around the country our taps are dry most of the time, apparently because there are no chemicals to treat raw water. Desperate people resort to desperate measures including collecting water from shallow wells dug on open roadside land – even that alongside cemeteries – and from cloudy pools in stagnant streams where mosquitoes swarm in their thousands. Despite this, still we are required to pay water bills every month, for the dirty, smelly water that sometimes splutters out of our taps and into our toilets. ZINWA do not warn us to boil the water, they do not send out accounts and they say that from December they too will not be accepting cheques from customers – customers who are paying them for not supplying water, paying them for disease.
In the middle of this week I went with a cheque to pay for my telephone connection with Tel-One – a government controlled enterprise, and the only fixed line telephone system in the country. To connect to a number outside of my home town has become almost impossible in the last few months with the exchanges being out of order for multiple hours every day. Tel- One no longer send out accounts to customers so you must pay what you think you owe, or be disconnected. Tel- One refused to accepted a cheque for less than two million dollars. The next day a friend went to pay for their telephone connection and had a cheque for three million dollars. Tel- One refused to accept the payment saying they no longer accepted cheques for amounts of less than ten million dollars and said that from next month they will not be accepting any cheques at all.
Government controlled systems are collapsing all around us and ZANU PF have no solutions for any of the massive problems which are closing the country down, chasing away the tourists and leading a nation into starvation and disease. It is time for a new election in Zimbabwe, one in which losers actually lose and winners really win. I leave you with one last thought for those who do not know: the contentious Ministry of Home Affairs does not only contain the Police but also the Registrar General’s office where births, deaths and voters are registered.
Until next time, thanks for reading, love cathy.