An attitude problem

23 12 2008

Today was pay day and I was anticipating a bad mood. I was not disappointed.

The labour are paid $35 for a full working month. Part of this is in the form of essential food and goods; maize meal, cooking oil, soap and sugar. It involves a fair bit of foraging. There was also a Christmas bonus of some orange cordial, sugar and salt. Christmas bonuses in this country are incorrectly perceived as a right and on a number of occasions my staff have had to be told that it is NOT a right and they should be grateful for what they are given. My company is doing badly; orders are nearly non-existent and the greenhouses are dilapidated due to the lack of funds. Nevertheless I got a delegation asking for a bigger bonus as the neighbouring company owned and run by my landlord had given the labour a thirteenth wage. I held onto my temper, just, and told them that they should be grateful for what they were getting as a significant proportion of the population were starving. They did not see it that way and no-one has bothered to come and say thank you. I can’t help feeling that this is a filter down attitude from the top echelons of government where everyone is out to get as much as possible.

Quote: “I will never, ever, ever surrender. Zimbabwe is mine!” Robert Mugabe as heard ranting on a BBC radio report recently. I suspect he’s been studying Gollum in one of the Lord of the Rings movies.

No deal?

23 09 2008

Like most Zimbabweans I thought the agreement signed between Mugabe and Tsvangarai included the allocation of ministries and Bob would keep control of the military and Morgan would get other key ministries such as home affairs and finance. Nope. Nothing has been allocated so it’s up to them to come to an agreement. Some chance. At the annual ZANU-PF gathering last week Bob came up for a lot of criticism for signing ANYTHING so the likelihood of giving up control of various key posts is remote. Bob is away at the UN General Assembly so nothing is going to happen for a while. In the meantime I must have my monthly squabble with my labour over wages.

A small step

16 09 2008

Unlike Neil Armstrong’s words there is no giant leap in the offing. Indeed, the BBC correspondent got it right; no-one is dancing in the streets. I am referring of course to the power sharing deal signed yesterday between Robert Mugabe and Morgan Tsvangarai. Both the EU and USA have said that they will not do anything until they see concrete signs of change. And change there had better be; the WFP estimates that 5 million people (half the population) will need food aid by January next year. That is quite and achievement for a country that only 10 years ago was a net food exporter.

A lot of really odious laws have to go too. The Public Order and Security Act (POSA) that effectively allows the government to prosecute anyone for anything including criticism of the president or the police has to be one of the first. I am curious to see what is going to become of the state controlled media that will hopefully have to become self-funding and a little less fawning. The ruling party (ZANU-PF) has relied on state funding for most of its tenure – will that be withdrawn? I hope so. Will the culprits of political violence meet their true justice? I doubt it, certainly not the fat cats who really should. No, this is definitely not first prize, it is a pragmatic solution. I would really like to see Robert and his cronies in The Hague with the good company of various eastern European criminals but that is unlikely. The best I can hope for is that he suffers a massive, debilitating stroke that leaves him irrelevant and wallowing in his own excrement and bitterness. I did not watch or listen to the signing ceremony yesterday but one who did hear him droning on about colonialism and the “War of Liberation” (that ended 28 years ago) said that he looked like a distinctly spent force. There is hope yet.

We’ll wait and see

21 07 2008

My foreman looked sceptical. I’d just asked him what he thought of the latest political developments i.e. the agreement to be signed in Joburg agreeing to talk between Mugabe and Tsvangirai (and their political parties). He seemed to think that most people did not really see what it was all about. I explained that according to commentators on the BBC that Bob was probably looking for a secure escape route (what, in AFRICA?) possibly as a figurehead president with Morgan as the power holding prime-minister. One has to bear in mind that Bob has to negotiate from a position of strength. He still looked sceptical.

But there is some encouraging news about if you look hard enough. My landlord’s wife, Gill, told me this morning that they’d been to Imire Game Park near Marondera over the weekend to see their son who is managing the game and lodge. A power that is had been recently to assure them that the negative publicity about Imire (slaughtered rhinos etc.) had to stop and actually saw off some “war vets” (hired thugs) whilst he was there. By all accounts the training camps for the youths who terrorized the rural areas before the last election have also been disbanded.

I must admit that this is the furthest down a negotiated settlement road that we have ever been but we have seen our hopes dashed too many times to get excited just yet. We’ll just have to wait and see.