Getting more for less (or preferably nothing at all)

22 10 2015

The workers’ committee representing my labour force requested a meeting yesterday. They were asking for a wage increase. That most of Zimbabwe is unemployed swayed them not a bit. Neither did the fact that most prices are not going up and rents are, in some cases, going down. The pharmacist where I most frequently get scripts has taken a 20% reduction in salary and is struggling to pay her children’s school fees. That I would have to increase prices to offset the wage increase and probably drive customers elsewhere also failed to move them. So in the end I just said no, it was not going to happen (I already pay substantially more than I am required to by law). They were more than a little bemused but at least they are actually working for a living unlike a lot of the “haves” in our society.

Currently there is a bit of a fuss in the press over a Zimbabwe born doctor who works in the UK. Dr Sylvester Nyatsuro is after a farm owned by a white farmer in the Centenary area in the north of Zimbabwe. Dr Nyatsuro is by all accounts successful in the UK, running a weight loss clinic in Nottingham – he does not need a farm in Zimbabwe. Even his UK lawyers seem to think he is entitled to grab the farm under Zimbabwe law. Note that he is not going to pay for it despite the fact that it is heavily cropped so I can only think he must be well connected. And what will happen to the farm in the hands of a doctor who probably knows little about farming? Well, he could if he is sensible employ someone who does know about farming but more likely it will suffer the fate of the farm just down the road from my business.

The farm to which I’m referring was once was highly productive. Some 3 years ago the owner was kicked off. Very little happens there now. There have been 2 disastrous crops of potatoes this year and last year there was an extraordinarily bad crop of seed maize that looked like it had been grown almost entirely without fertilizer. There is ample water supply to farm most of the land through the dry winter and ironically, unlike a lot of Zimbabwe, it has reasonably reliable power to pump the water. It is not clear whom is actually in charge of the land but the manager is reasonably capable so I can only think the “owner” is bleeding it dry.

Earlier this month, hot on the heels of Cecil the Lion saga, a magnificent bull elephant was shot by a trophy hunter near the Ghona-re-Zhou game reserve in the south east of Zimbabwe. It was a completely legal hunt but already the social media knives are out having so successfully lynched the American dentist who shot Cecil the Lion and has been exonerated of committing a crime (the professional hunter who led the hunt may or may not have something to answer for).

The German hunter who apparently shot the elephant paid a reported $60,000 for the right to shoot an elephant. That’s a lot of money for most people and in Zimbabwe professional hunting does bring in much needed cash and supports a lot of people. The hunting fraternity also argue that the controlled hunting areas would become a free-for-all poaching areas if hunting were to stop i.e. they are conservationists too. Whilst a lot of people find trophy hunting repugnant it would be difficult to argue that a poached animal that often dies in agony over several days has a cleaner death than one shot (elephant poachers have taken to using tranquilizer guns on their prey because they are silent – the tusks are then hacked off whilst the animal is still conscious) in a professional hunt. In Zimbabwe we don’t have the luxury of being able to leave land idle – it must all earn its keep. Sadly, allocating hunting areas to photo tourism won’t work either. Our already underfunded national parks are themselves being poached and in many cases the general public is helping to keep them going. Friends of Hwange are active in providing water to the animals in the country’s premier national park – a task that in normal countries would fall to the government. This government is always pleading poverty and prefers to let well-wishers help out whilst they spend supposedly non-existent funds on military vehicles.

Just yesterday I received an email from some local microlight pilots who have started a trust to provide aircraft free of cost to assist with anti-poaching patrols in the National Parks. The National Parks people are reportedly delighted as I guess so too are the government.

Now that most parts of the country are suffering massive power cuts of up to 18 hours, those of us who can are looking to “make a plan”. Whilst I am not in an area too badly affected I am not sitting idle and am looking at the solar option. A diesel generator would be cheaper but I am not convinced that diesel will always be available. Sunlight will be. So I guess I am as guilty as anyone of not standing up to the corruption, mismanagement and poor governance that blights this special country. But at least I am working for my money.




2 responses

23 10 2015
Stewart Wilson

Hi Andy, Nice post and courageous too. Check the sentence dealing with tranquillizer poaching / cutting off tusks/ professional hunt. Didn’t make sense to me or maybe I am cross-eyed / getting old!

Keep posting,


13 06 2016

Reblogged this on Tribulations and Freedom.

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