Way Below the Breadline

18 11 2007

There is a South African cartoonist, Jonathan Shapiro who is adept at skewering the local politicians. This cartoon is thanks to him and more can be found at the South African Mail and Guardian homepage.


The income tax (PAYE) lower limit is at the moment ZW$4m a month. Officially, i.e. using the official exchange rate of 35000 to the US dollar, this amounts to US$114 a month which is a bit of an insult to say the least. The reality is that ZW$4m is actually worth US$2.85 and I really cannot think of a polite adjective for that.

I’m not sure if this cartoon is a reference to a South African situation that I don’t know about. I suspect not. Price fixing in Zimbabwe was exactly this though; an excuse for those with paws in the black market to get filthy rich. It seems to have largely fallen away as I found out yesterday in a supermarket.

It was my birthday so I thought I’d go out and see what I could find as a way of a treat. Hey, look, butter! Now that would be nice with some home baked bread (South African flour, South African yeast) and there was no way I was going to join the bread queue – yes the price of some things are still controlled. Well, let’s just check the price. Hmm, 10.25m a kg. Well that makes it close to R50 a kg (may as well use South African currency as I’m using South African flour even though it’s local butter). That’s what I call ridiculous and somewhat above the minimum tax bracket. Put it back and see what else is about. OK, some of Jenni’s favourite “breakfast” dog food. She’s a difficult dog to bribe but she really does like the South African (we are on a theme here) dog food, largely because it smells good I suspect. Now that’s clever marketing; make the dog food actually smell like the label – “Beef & Mutton”. I have tried it and am not sure that it IS actually “Beef  & Mutton” but what the hell, she likes it.  A packet of 1.75kg is the same price as the butter, I guess she’ll just have to do with a bone instead, and anyway, it’s just another day to her!



One response

29 11 2007
Oscar A.

Nice Blog. I have read a few of your posts and have learned more about Zimbabwe. It truly show how fortunate I am to live in the U.S.

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