I have received this letter from Cathy in Zimbabwe. When reading it, notice that the butternut squash she purchased cost thirty billion Zimbabwe dollars and the poor supermarket assistant, with a wife and family to support was only paid twenty-eight Zimbabwe dollars.
I am sure our hearts go out to these people who are starving and cannot support their families.
Dear Family and Friends,
In the main supermarket in my home town this weekend there were too many empty shelves to count. In the fortnight since Mr Mugabe was sworn in as President for his sixth term, everyday life has gone from struggle to complete crisis. No one is coping now and in the last two weeks virtually all foodstuffs, toiletries and household goods have completely disappeared from stores. On what should have been a busy weekend morning in our once thriving town, the car park was virtually empty and the only things to buy in the cavernous supermarket were cabbages, butternut squash, lemons, fizzy drinks and a few packets of meat.
“Where are all your goods?” I asked one shop attendant.
“There is nothing,” he said, “the suppliers say they have nothing to deliver.”
I stood while he weighed the butternut squash I had chosen and exclaimed in shock at the 30 billion dollar price sticker he fixed to the vegetable.
“Can I show you something?” the man said and before I could answer he took his most recent pay slip out of his pocket. For an entire month the shop assistant had earned just 28 billion dollars – not even enough to buy one single butternut squash. Eight hours a day, five and half days a week and his entire salary was not enough to provide even one single meal. He told me he had a wife and a child to support and said with remorse and shame in his voice:”I am failing them and if I do not jump the border to look for work this month then they are surely going to die.”
They are simple words stating a simple fact – people are surely going to die here in Zimbabwe if this situation continues for much longer. Despite their desperate determination to stay in power and retain their 28 years of leadership of the country, Zanu PF have so far not even acknowledged the critical shortage of foodstuffs and basic medicines let alone done anything about resolving it.
Everywhere people have stories of such deprivation and suffering to recount and we are a nation in a permanent state of shock. Shock that our lives have been reduced to this. Shock that yet again the UN have been unable to find a common voice. Shocked that the violence and brutality continues and shocked that yet again we are hearing of talks about talks about talks. On the 29th March the MDC won a parliamentary majority, It is long past time for them to be sworn in and take up the reigns and lead Zimbabwe out of this hell. Until next week, thanks for reading,
© Cathy Buckle. 12 July 2008.
Cathy has written books on Africa – do visit her website is at and her books: “African Tears” and “Beyond Tears” are available South Africa and in the UK. The above letter is part of an ongoing story of her experiences in Zimbabwe and you can subscribe to her newsletter by writing to Cathy Buckley.