IT is obviously not enough to starve your nationals of their democracy and freedom of association and choice; the government has now seen it fit to starve the electorate, literally.
If you considered that the shops were bare in
July, the state of affairs now in September is positively grim.
A term has been coined for TM — “MT”! With the exception of a competing brand whose outlets appear better stocked, albeit with mainly imported goods, the situation is dire and sounds the death knell for the majority of Zimbabweans.
A well-heeled friend admitted the other day that with all her connections and contacts, she had not put a drop of milk to her lips for the better part of two months.
A young mother who is due to return to work from maternity leave is distraught because, while her desire is to provide breast milk exclusively to her infant, she does not produce enough to express. Consequently she needs normally readily available formula substitutes — but none are to be found.
Easy-to-digest porridge premixes would be easier on the infant’s gut than mealie-meal porridge, but neither those nor local grain meal are available. Not only that, she struggled to find nappies, towels and clothing for the baby.
Each time I see a pregnant woman now, in spite of the fact that for a woman this should be a happy time of expectation, my heart bleeds because I know that her labour will not end in the ward dedicated for this birth experience.
This is a good candidate for the return to pure animal instinct. She is most likely to bare her fangs should any harm approach her offspring. Consequently, she is likely to do whatever it takes to secure a tin or two of formula, whatever it takes . . . so beware!
But then, this situation has bred or brought to the fore these animalistic instincts. It has created scavengers and hunter-gatherers out of hitherto sophisticated urban dwellers.
It is no longer unusual to see women carrying firewood on their heads (and for security guards bundles of firewood from well-wooded northern suburbs on the bicycle carriers), buckets of water, grain for the grinding mill, and so on. Scenes, which previously brought a nostalgic hankering for the simple rural life, are now commonplace in cities.
A number of adaptive shopping practices have emerged: those who set up camp outside supermarkets, an all-day affair, in the hope of being first in the queue for any delivery; others rely on now corrupt employees to set aside “loot” in exchange for anything from a smile, a gift, a squeeze of a firm breast, or more; yet others are still “privileged” to receive calls or text messages from store managers, still clinging onto the marketing practices of the past and the 80:20 principle.
The big guns simply stroll into an outlet generally believed to belong to a vertically challenged MP who appears to be exempted from prosecution under the June 18 price directive.
What is clear is that the previously comfortable middle-class are not at all happy about being sandwiched in a queue between gardeners and other persons of the blue-collar brigade whose poor personal hygiene emanating from erratic water and soap supplies renders perfume and cologne powerless.
Not only have we been meticulously stripped of our birthright and dignity, we have also been pushed into a zone where time has neither value nor meaning — productivity means nothing. This is a development consistent with a government for whom productivity has not been measured for 27 years! So whether it takes two hours or two years, or two people or 20 people to complete a task, the end justifies the means.
So whether you are a guardian faced with the task of providing nutritious meals to children with compromised immune systems, or in charge of an institution for the aged, or a boarding school for active growing teenagers, or a hotel group striving to meet world-class standards for international visitors, the challenges are the same.
And yet an eerie peace hovers over the nation. Divine, perhaps, or prophetic.
As our lives are undermined, daily, our reservoirs of resilience and tolerance appear to receive an inexplicable auto top-up in direct proportion. But the breaking point is approaching; the string is at its most taut and cannot, nay should not, be stretched any further.
“Not by might, nor by power, but by my Spirit . . . says the Lord,” Zech 4:6.