Be kind to me – I gave blood today

22 12 2007

Giving blood has never been a problem for me; I started when I was 18 and having been drafted into the army we all had to go and give blood. It’s been a regular thing ever since. The local blood transfusion service is run by pleasant staff who actually do remember me when I appear every three months or so. This morning the power was off so they could not use the computer to access my records. Not a problem, we did it the manual way. After the usual checks for blood pressure and density and personal questions about my non-existent sex life it was off to the couch and donate.

With all the scares about HIV in this country I do make a point of checking that nothing is reused and I have never had to quibble. I have almost given up on trying to embarrass the staff when they ask about “girlfriends”. I guess they have heard it all before many times. Curiously I was asked how many “girlfriends” I “have” to which my reply is “none” though I suppose other whites might reply “one”. I pointed out to the nurse that in my book at least, “girlfriend” implies some sort of fidelity i.e. a relationship. She was asking how many sexual partners I might have had since the last donation. I suppose the blacks in this country view the term “girlfriend” a little differently.

Chatting to the sister (that’s a term for SRN here) who took my blood I discovered that the NBTS is only partly government funded and relies on NGO’s and others for funding; it is essentially a welfare organization. Of course the blood products are price-controlled by the government! The usual challenge of power outages requires them to store blood products at various other institutions which causes them some concern as they can no longer guarantee that the cold chain remains unbroken. As a donor I am not paid but I do get some biscuits and tea and a sticker with the title of this post on it!

The other topic of conversation was the issue of the new denomination bank notes announced earlier in the week. Nobody had seen any and on my way back to my bank to check out the status of my wages requisition of some ZW$450m I noticed long queues of people waiting outside other banks. I needn’t have bothered – there was nothing available. Now they really are cutting this a bit fine. Saturday is a holiday which only leaves Monday to do shopping and get to where one wants to go. That leaves tomorrow to get all the money out and distributed. The new denominations are even more of a mystery. They are $250000, $500000 and $750000 and all the current $200000 will become invalid at the end of the year. I think the logic may be something like this and I use the term “logic” loosely so please bear with me.

According to the Governor of the Reserve Bank, Gideon Gono, the shortage of cash is due to speculators holding onto mainly $200000 notes in order to drive the rate against the US dollar down so that they can corner the market (the cash rate is very low at the moment – $1.5m to one US$, compared with the transfer rate which is six times that). I find that a bit difficult to believe as the cash rate has never gone much over 1.8m to the US so if speculators were buying local dollars for that in order to cause a shortage of currency so that the price would drop so that they could buy US back at a cheaper rate they would have had to have bought truck loads of the local stuff. Nope, I don’t think so. But I do concede that a number of the supermarkets are not banking their daily cash takings as legally required and are holding them back to buy imported produce “off the street”. Whatever, we spend a fair bit of idle time trying to guess what the next economic antics will be when there is no logic on which to base one’s guesses. It’s a hopeless cause.



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