The up side of down

4 10 2007

– But that’s really cheap scotch. Look, eight million dollars, that’s eight pounds. Where are you going to get a litre of scotch for that price?
I shone my torch at the price label, and sure enough it was eight million, or close enough. There was yet another power cut in progress and for some reason the booze shelves were in the darkest corner of the supermarket. Luckily I carry a pocket torch and more than a few people had used it. It seems we are now in a situation where the power supply is interrupting the absence thereof.

I pointed out that the wine was also pretty good value at a pound a bottle for a very reasonable quality South African brand. I’d already bought a substantial quantity of the latter for just that reason, it was remarkably cheap in real terms. Yes, I know that I don’t earn real money but I guess we are all looking for ANY good reason to still be here, no matter how artificial it is. I duly loaded up one bottle of scotch and three of wine.

Malcom, who’d pointed out the amazing value of the scotch, is an infrequent customer of mine. He lives a short distance up the same road as my business and is a successful farmer though he’s had a torrid time in the past few years hanging onto his farm. He likes to chat and although fishing is the topic of choice just chatting is fine. He told me that he’d been approached by a next door neighbour who’d “acquired” his current farm and was looking for a business partner for his son and wouldn’t Malcom be interested in return for political immunity? The background to this is the recent Indiginisation & Economic Empowerment Act that has just passed through parliament and is designed to get “those who were disadvantaged prior to April 2000” (the date of official independence) a share of the diminishing corporate pie. It’s a blatantly racist piece of legislation (whites apparently, can never be indigenous but then were all blacks disadvantaged prior to the said date?) but as usual it has not been well thought out or drafted. In reality it seems that the authorities can only call for 51% indiginisation in situations are those involving a merger that could lead to monopolistic practices, a demerger above a certain value, a change in the controlling interest in certain businesses where that interest will be above a certain value, and investment in prescribed sectors where an investment licence is required. Stay clear of that lot and the minister can do zilch. In theory. It has not stopped the opportunists trying to take advantage and pressurizing the likes of Malcom into parting with a controlling interest and then most likely the whole lot.

It would be silly of course to generalize that the whole of the ruling elite are racist though I would be prepared to bet that a lot of them are. Malcom is on friendly terms with the aunt of a very high ranking political figure and he mentioned his problem to her. Her advice was direct; “Malcom, don’t even entertain him. It will all be rosy until they think they are well entrenched and then they will force you off”. Sadly most of the likes of this lady have been driven away by the absurdity that is Zimbabwe. It’s no secret that the ruling elite never wanted a black middle class to emerge and in this they have succeeded admirably.

I wandered around the rest of the supermarket (though it hardly qualified for supermarket status as there seemed to be little in the way of anything to buy) and then wandered out with my prizes. I felt sort of pleased that I’d got a bargain but something inside told me it was really just a “bargain”.

Some things are genuinely cheap though. Today I sent my driver out to the rural district council to re-licence my vehicles. It cost a total of US$9.00 to licence 3 vehicles for 8 months. I suppose one could argue that it’s worthless because you get nothing for it but the reverse is also true!


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15 10 2007
Big Blister

You are all maintaining your metal arithmetic skills…

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