A trail of plastic and paper

28 10 2012

I have issues with plastic bags that are given out with just about every purchase in Zimbabwe (supermarkets, to their everlasting credit, are the exception to this statement – they charge for theirs). Harare is no longer the clean city that it was in the ’80s and early ’90s and I drive past a  rubbish tip on the way home from town; plastic bags litter the fences, trees and the farm fields surrounding it. It is especially bad when the wind is south-east and when it rains there is a distinct vomit-like smell from the dump. So when the teller at the bank told me that they were no longer accepting personal withdraws on paper slips from the beginning of next year I did a silent mental cheer. Only debit cards will be allowed. I suspect this has more to do with reducing their workload than saving the environment, but it’s a start.

The attitude at the local hardware store that afternoon was a little different.

“I don’t want a plastic bag thank you”.

“Are you sure?” the shop assistant asked dubiously. EVERYBODY takes plastic bags if they are GIVEN them.

“Yes, I am quite sure” I insisted.

“Will you be able to get your stuff to the car?” he persisted. The car was right outside the shop door so I stood my ground.

The next stop was  to pay for some air tickets to Cape Town over Christmas and New Year. The money was counted and I watched incredulously as the agent printed out the tickets; two pages for each! E-tickets no less!

“Oh, would you have preferred it as an email?” she asked when I remarked on the irony of e-tickets using so much paper.

“It’s a bit late for that” I muttered picking up the sheaf of papers.

It’s not just Zimbabwe that has trouble adapting to the electronic age. Earlier this month at London Gatwick airport in the UK I was checking in at the Emirates counter. I was very pleased with myself having done a check-in online and got my 2D bar code on my new smart phone. But nobody wanted to see it – they wanted to see the  e-ticket on paper!

Air Zimbabwe – euthanasia required

19 01 2012

The photo on Shelton’s cell phone was unmistakable – an Airbus A320. It was, I was told, parked in an Air Zimbabwe hanger for painting in the national carrier’s colours. Now anyone familiar with the Air Zim saga will appreciate just how daft this is.

At the end of last year Air Zim had a plane impounded at London Gatwick for non-payment of outstanding servicing and spares and was therefore not available for Robert Mugabe to use to go to Kim Jong Il’s funeral (word has it that he was not pleased). The same had happened in Jo’burg a bit earlier with another aircraft. The planes were eventually released and now Air Zim doesn’t fly to either of those destinations –  presumably they still owe money. It is a bit restrictive just flying in the sub-region and cannot be remotely profitable. Shelton is junior aircrew and has not been paid for 8 months. One can only imagine what the other staff are owed and here we are with two purchased Airbuses. Oh, and they are not remotely new either so are not going to be cheap to run. Really, how IS this going to make any difference to Air Zim’s misery? It is time to do the right thing and put the whole sorry mess to sleep.