Turning off the power

15 02 2012

Mozabique has threatened to turn off the power it supplies Zimbabwe over an unpaid bill of US$90 million. It turns out that the power supply authority in Zimbabwe is owed some $537 million. Zimbabwe has many financial woes, not least the lack of power. Agriculture in this part of the world, where droughts are endemic, is especially vulnerable to power cuts. Irrigation is essential for at least 7 months of the year and also in the rainy season in years such as this one when the rains were late. It is not clear why non-paying clients were not cut off as is usually the case but I should think that intimidation from those with political connections is a large part of the problem. The governor of Manicaland is said to owe some $145,000. It is about time the fat cats were made to go on a diet!

At the limit of the lift

24 01 2012

“The lift is full!” several people chorused. That did not deter the small guy waiting outside.

“There is a space!” he said and dived into the nearly solid crowd, somehow finding a space behind my left elbow.

“Just as well he is small” I reflected as I counted 15 people now in the lift. Just above the levels selector buttons there was a notice that prominently stated that the capacity of the lift was 13 people and 900kg. I had been going up and down in the lift as I sought to clear up the mess that is my company tax file in the ZIMRA (Zimbabwe Revenue Authority) building that is Kurima House in the CBD of Harare today. Of course there must be a safety factor built-in on top of the limit but the manner in which the doors had to be forced apart on the ground floor did not give me a lot of faith that the lift was well maintained. The rest of the building has been refitted in the last 3 years following the US dollarisation of the economy so I guess that at least some of my tax dollars are being well used. I don’t begrudge them that; the building was pretty disgusting in the Zimbabwe dollar days.

My business there took 2 full hours and I got back to my pickup just as my parking time was expiring. The road was now packed with double-parked vehicles which seems to indicate that quite a lot of Zimbabweans are  paying their taxes. But I do have my doubts that those who really need to pay taxes,  the fat cats, actually are doing so.