It’s the connections that count

30 03 2012

“So how has this season been?” I asked the farmer once we’d got over the introductions.

“Actually it has been a good tobacco season” he replied. “Not too much rain”.

“And how secure are you?” I asked, referring to the possibility of an eviction.

“Well, there is someone after the farm but he is pretty much a non-entity. There is an electric fence around the house and once in a while we exchange words through it. I have got our case to the Supreme Court and so far we seem secure but I’m not at all sure that we’ll still be there for another season. At least leasing the farm means we have no emotional attachment to the land”.

I asked if the landlord had “connections” in the political world.

“No” came the reply. “He is another white farmer who gave up his other farm. His son was recently kicked off his farm in the same area. There is a notorious fat-cat with political clout who even managed to block the hearing at the Supreme Court and two weeks later was on the farm”.

I thought of my doctor and her husband who were evicted off their farm in November last year. Both the High Court and the Governor of the province had told them to stay on the farm but the would-be occupier know someone with a LOT of political clout and that was that. It’s all about connections.

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!