Gentleman John

21 11 2021

“Look what I’ve been given” Marianne said.

I turned around to see her admiring a large bunch of mainly red roses; she was positively purring.

“I got them from John” she added.

“Because you are my guardian angels” enthused John as a way of explanation. “Thank you for thinking of me”.

I told him that we had thought of him because he does good work which was quite true. He has cut out a number of diseased trees for us over the past five years and always does a good job and is reasonably priced to boot. And of course he is a gentleman too. So I had to think of a way to “get him back” so to speak. More about that later.

We turned out attention to the avocado tree in question. It had grown very big so the only way to get avocados off it was to wait for them to fall. Avocados don’t do falling well, especially from eight metres, and whilst they were not bad as humble grown-from-a-seed fruit of this type are, there are definitely better around. The plan was to cut the tree back to three stems, wait for new shoots to grow out, and then graft on several known cultivars that I like and get a tree that can produce for some 6 months or more.

I showed John where I wanted the main stems cut and with yet more thank yous for thinking of him he got to work.

Our president, E. D. Mnangagwa, or just ED as Zimbabweans know him, is not much like John. He has been at the COP 26 climate conference in Glasgow. Not one for scrimping on costs or being environmentally conscientious he took along 100 sycophants in a specially chartered jet. Technocrats were left behind in favour of party buddies. Judging by the videos on social media they know how to party too.

An address by ED to a nearly empty auditorium was picked up by the press, and whilst not that unusual at that time slot, plenty of mileage was got. Apparently ED has committed us to a 40% reduction in greenhouse gas emissions by 2030. Details on how this would be done were omitted. One social media wag commented that since the land invasions of the 2000s the destruction of the economy has already achieved the 40% reduction target – we just have to be careful the economy doesn’t grow. That shouldn’t be too difficult – the current regime is only interested in self-enrichment. He also made claims that the sanctions to which he and other party bigwigs are subjected are stifling Zimbabwe’s economy and hamstringing our economy. One of his sons recently imported, by air, a Rolls Royce car valued at some US$500,000.

The local Zimbabwe dollar continues to lose traction in the economy. ED has buckled to the war veterans’ (loosely defined as those who supported the nationalists in the civil war of the 70s) demands that they get their pensions paid in US dollars. The civil servants saw this as an opportunity and made the same demand which was flatly refused. In other countries it would be unwise to anger one’s voter base but in Zimbabwe elections are predetermined so it’s not a big issue.

Our gardener comes from the rural north of the country and he says that there the US dollar holds sway – don’t bother offering local dollars. My senior foreman comes from the east and there the local dollar is still acceptable in some situations. While it’s not illegal to price in US dollars it is illegal to convert it to the local equivalent at anything but the official rate which is determined by the central bank’s (Reserve Bank of Zimbabwe) daily auction rate. Senior figures at a local company were charged for this infraction and I have noticed that signs claiming the rate of exchange used in their outlets became prominently displayed. Everyone else is ignoring it and the black market rate continues to climb. It’s now around 200 local dollars to 1 US dollar whereas the official rate is 105.

We paid Gentleman John in US dollars because we do like him and he does a good job, this one was no exception. My revenge on him giving him Marianne roses was to give him a bar of Lindt chocolate for his wife who I hoped would to ask why. I haven’t heard back.


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One response

21 11 2021
tuppit260

Great to see some of the old school are still about!

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