I am currently in Zimbabwe visiting my family, especially my father who had heart failure a few weeks ago. Not to worry, he is better now, but I thought you would be interested to know about the current situation on the ground. I have been here since Saturday, August 29th. On Sunday I traveled from Victoria Falls (my town) to Binga where we are sponsoring 60 high school children, from where I proceeded to Bulawayo overnight, and then to Harare (the capital city) on Monday morning.
I came to Harare to renew my visa to be able to go back to New York in a few weeks. In addition to my core business, I have arranged to meet with a number of organizations to talk to them about the Council for Zimbabwe, current events and to see how Zimbabweans abroad and global citizens can play a constructive role in rebuilding Zimbabwe.
It is 4.15 am right now in Harare and I am sitting here to compose this email. A few hours from now, the electricity supply will be cut off for the whole day. On other days, the supply is sporadic, but Thursday, I am told, is a whole day affair. Water is scarce and my hosts in Grendale-a suburb of Harare-tell me that they have been using buckets to save water since November last year. My friend's mother, who is hosting me, is also up. She has to cook now and prepare for the day. But, she is one of the very fortunate few, who can wake up to prepare some food- her husband is a diplomat working for an organization that is a part of the World Bank. He earns U.S. dollars, but even for him, this is not heaven, not even purgatory! May be it's like being a VIP in the hell that has become life here- you have access to a few things, but the general condition is unbearable. But then again, that is only if you are somewhat VIP!
By now I am sure you have all heard about how difficult life is in Zimbabwe. Well, that is an understatement. For the general masses, things are beyond unbearable. I am still unable to figure out how people are surviving, let alone how much money I am carrying. Take this for instance, my brother earns no more than US$10 per month as an auditor for the Victoria Falls Town Council. A kilogram of meat costs about $5 and he has two kids! Inflation is unbelievable. On Tuesday I went to a public phone shop to make local phone calls and the cost of using the phone was 10 Zimbabwe Dollars (Z$10) per minute, in new currency- that is Z$100 Billion! On Wednesday morning, the price was Z$30 per minute and only God and Allah, and Jah know what it will be today. Shelves in stores are empty, except for the ones in well to do neighborhoods. Fuel is scarce, but when it is available, the informal-informal sector made of unemployed people with time to stand in line, is buying it from gas stations for resale at about 5 or times the marked price.
In the streets, people look gloomy. Yesterday I spent a good chunk of my day meeting with various people, before proceeding to the University of Zimbabwe to meet with the Dean at the Medical School. On my way there, a medical student gave me a ride. She tells me that she and her classmates are supposed to graduate in a few weeks as Dentists. They may not because there are no medical supplies for them to take their final examinations. Gloves, textbooks, anesthesia, and other basics that a Medical student is supposed to have as part of their training, you name it, the university is without. The time they are supposed to spend in hospitals to gain practical experience has been almost useless, they have no basics for them to practice with let alone prescribe.
Sorry, the power is out and I must conserve the little there is on this laptop for today's work. Will write soon. But for now, treasure the food, water, and everything else you are blessed with. And if you get a moment, give a little to those without. Till then, be blessed.
Council for Zimbabwe