The status quo

11 01 2010

Hi Bridget,

Yes, there is no denying that Zim is a lot better off than a year ago. Everything is available albeit at a high price (especially electonics!). The basic food stuffs are reasonably priced and some things like beer (essentials!) are the same price as in SA. I would say that some 90% or more of what I see on supermarket shelves is imported. I even saw imported tomatoes the other day which in my opinion is scandalous! If you stuck to the touristy things you would not know that there was much wrong because they are not dependent on local inputs, just you the tourist bringing money in. As farming inputs go I can get whatever I need and prices have come down with competition though a lot of our chemicals seem to come out of China along with a few worries about what is actually in them. I was out at the TRB (Tobacco Research Board) the other day and they did mention that they’d had a lot of reports of phytotoxicity on seed beds this season though that might also have been due to imcompetence.

We are still as a nation not producing much though with the gold price being what it is that aspect does seem to be coming along. The flower exporters (who hadn’t been kicked off) took a massive knock whith the world-wide economic crisis of course. This year is also a full blown el Niño so rains have been very patchy and some areas are getting hammered. My senior foreman came back from leave in Manicaland last week and said that if they did not get good rain by this week their crops would be a write-off. I have heard from a friend whose son farms in the Chimoio area that they are equally bad. So no doubt the begging bowl will come out again!

Farmers getting kicked off the land is no longer the front page news that it was though I have heard via the grape vine that it is still happening. Maybe it’s because there are so few left that the rate has slacked off a bit! I do hear of people wanting to come back and I believe there is a drift in this direction. I’m not sure what they think they will actually do. I don’t see a lot happening until there is some sort of rule-of-law and of course that is definitely not going to happen as long as the incumbent is still there and he shows no sign of leaving. Loans are very hard to come by and conditions for collateral are ridiculous. I survive because I am a cash farmer but things are very tight right now – I have only 3 large commercial scale farmers left on my books.

The health services have improved a lot but are expensive relative to SA and if you don’t have medical aid you WILL have a problem at some stage! I suppose I should say that the private health services have improved massively but I was impressed with the Pari (large government run hospital in Harare) when I went there for some tests a while ago (that means it was functioning and clean and not the train smash that it was last year!)

Education is fine if you can afford the private schools – Peterhouse girls all in is now $3000 per term. A friend says that is more expensive than Rhodes University! Government schools are functioning which is certainly and improvement but as to the standards I cannot comment.

So yes we are in for another tough year.




One response

11 01 2010
Big Blister

It’s still 1/10 here so I’m reading this before it’s published. Irrelevant thought – a distraction from the severe reality of Zimbabwe. It’s still all pretty mind boggling.

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