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Zimbabwe News letter to friends from Cathy Buckle (October 15, 2005)

Dear Family and Friends,
I am writing this letter from a very tense Zimbabwe where the situation is changing rapidly. Here are just a few things that have happened in the last couple of weeks.
The inflation rate jumped 94 percent in a month, going from 265 percent in August to 359.8% in September 2005.
In the last sixteen days the price of a standard loaf of white bread in Marondera has almost tripled in price from eight to twenty thousand dollars.

The four pack of toilet paper that I wrote about last week, the one that cost fifty two thousand dollars - this week that same pack costs ninety one thousand dollars.

In a country where at least 2 million people face hunger this Christmas and where the government has to import 37 000 tons of maize a week, productive farms continue to be invaded. In the last few days 2 farmers were evicted in Manicaland, another was shot in the shoulder and the CFU said 25 other farmers had been ordered to be off their properties by the end of the month. The Governor of the Reserve Bank said that these invasions were fuelling inflation and just had to stop. He said all productive farms should be regarded as sacred but again his words fell on deaf ears as they are not backed up with political intent or action.

Zimbabwe's only tyre manufacturer, Dunlop announced that they have been forced to stop production and sent over 800 workers home as they have no foreign currency for critical imports.

National Foods, the country's biggest miller has said that the closure of its mills in Harare and Bulawayo is now in sight as they have nothing to grind, mill or refine - no wheat and no maize.

At the top of my son's mid term circular from school this weekend is a statement which reads: "We have received a Directive from the Acting Permanent Secretary of Education to close school on the 24th November." This is 8 days before the official end of the school term and the second time in six months that the government have closed schools early so that they can hold elections.

In between all these things life sort of staggers on. Every day we wait for, and usually get, water cuts and electricity cuts. Every night we get no explanations or answers to any of the fuel, food or economic calamities but just more self congratulatory propaganda on state television. In this atmosphere the MDC finally announced they would not take part in the Senate elections. Ordinary Zimbabweans who have lost everything, who are hungry, unemployed and walking around in transparently thin second, third and fourth hand clothes, hope that this time the MDC will stick to their decision and remember who it is they represent.
Until next week, love cathy.

(By Cathy Buckle -  http://www.africantears.netfirms.com/thisweek.shtml )