Zimbabwe - Crawling Under
Razor Wire To Leave
From Cathy Buckle
- Dear Family and Friends,
- Every day that price controls continue, the discontent amongst Zimbabweans rises. Everyone, everywhere is
now affected and it doesn't matter if you are a political heavyweight, a soldier, policeman or ordinary member of society,
everything is either in very short supply or just not available at all. In one big supermarket this weekend there were 78
empty shelves on a busy Saturday morning and the goods most plentiful were wine, cleaning products and toilet cleaner.
- Walking along one empty aisle after another with my 15 year old son, home for the school holidays, we were
looking for soft drinks - any colour, flavour or make would have done but there was nothing at all to be had. We both stood
open mouthed at the sudden scrum that developed right in front of us.
- From an internal storeroom a man emerged with a shopping trolley which was half
- full with small, 375 ml, bottles of cooking oil. From all over the supermarket, and the doorway and outside
on the pavement, people ran, pushed, shoved and shouted as they scrambled to get to the trolley and grab one of the small
bottles. Even security guards on duty at the exits joined in and it was frightening to witness the dramatic changes in people
from calm and dignified to squabbling, scrabbling, pushing and out of control.
- Even though he is a teenager and almost taller than me, I looked first to my son, was he OK, out of the
way of the madness, and then to a friend I'd seen, an 82 year old man who had gone white as a sheet and seemed rooted to the
spot, not sure what was happening or which way to move. I put an arm round him and he was shaking and I couldn't believe he
hadn't been knocked over in the stampede.
- Outside in the car park the conversation was not about empty shelves, the lack of essential food stuffs
or the sudden and complete disappearance of even soft drinks. It wasn't about the lack of meat or eggs, flour, sugar or rice
or the daily water cuts, instead it was about beer.
- Now Zimbabwe has run out of beer it seems and for many this has been the anaesthetic which has
dulled the pain of this time of madness. Outside the main beer distribution warehouse in the town cars and trucks
lined both sides of the road, their vehicles piled high with empty crates. A bread truck was stopped at a small garage where
petrol and diesel haven't been available for some weeks and perhaps a hundred people lined up each to be allowed to buy a
single loaf. These are scenes I have seen in documentaries about the second world war and they are almost impossible to comprehend
in our country which until so recently was a land of plenty.
- You really do have to see these scenes, walk amongst the people and witness these shocking scrambles for
food to understand why Zimbabweans are crawling under razor wire and climbing over barbed wire border fences to get out of
- Until next week,
- thanks for reading,
- love cathy.
- Copyright cathy buckle
- 4 August 2007
- My books: "African Tears" and "Beyond Tears" are available