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Here We Go Again – Societal Collapse in Zimbabwe

Coen Van Wyk

Posted on November 30, 2019 12:43

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Zimbabwe provides an excellent laboratory for societal collapse. Government efforts to loot the economy have once again triggered a total breakdown of trust between State and the public, but not the bonds that hold the society together.

A United Nations Special Envoy warned that eight million people in this fertile sub-Saharan country would soon be affected by man-made starvation. 2.2 million in towns and cities lack access to health and safe water.

Subsistence agriculture is precarious. Photo UN News


Hundreds of medical doctors walked off the job claiming that lack of funding of state health services amounted to a “silent genocide” as runaway inflation eroded salaries and the ability to source medicines and equipment.

Power cuts due to a collapsing power sector sees rampant deforestation as people turn to charcoal to cook. While illegal, a bag of charcoal may bring in $0.50 for the peasant cutting and burning the forest, and $2.50 for the retailer who has to factor in transport and bribes.

Inflation figures are no longer being released by the government, but researchers put it at 440% in October 2019.

An anecdote:

A friend in eastern Zimbabwe, her crops lost during cyclone Idai in March 2019, her cattle dead from disease, and the government veterinarian service only available to party supporters, as was food relief after the cyclone, is now asked for seed maize to plant for the coming season. We planned to provide 150 kilograms (330 pounds). Zimbabweans regularly buy seed in South Africa and send it by bus or private transport, paying bribes in lieu of taxes. To be legal, we found a Zimbabwean supplier online. It took us a week to make the transfer of the quoted Zimbabwe Dollar price, at which time she managed to buy 15 kilograms (33 pounds). Inflation at work.

Effects of drought. Photo Reuters


It need not be so. A recent study by the African Futures programme suggested that ample agriculture opportunities exist. Enough water is available to double the land under irrigation. Climate change has devastated existing farmlands, but has enabled others to become productive.

Government has abandoned all vestiges of socialist sloganeering and the word on the street is now: Zimbabwe is open for business. Any government official is available if you have the cash. Any business venture depends, for its success, on its revenue potential to the ruling party. Use of foreign currency is illegal, except that all fines, import permits, and other services must be paid in US dollars.

http://thelatest.com/uploads/tlt/c49b5d69e25335f8e0900deb361d9a6b.jpg
Opposition to a predatory Government is suppressed Photo Jekesai Njikizana/AFP

How do people survive? A mentality of self-sufficiency helps: Solar power, boreholes to provide water, and rain catchment systems are popular, but expensive. But increasingly people are forming networks for mutual support. Families, communities, and villages are banding together to share resources, knowledge, and labour. Our friend will share seeds for help to plant.

Zimbabweans overseas send money. International support for the people, poverty relief immune to political interference, and media attention can help. Not much else will.

Coen Van Wyk

Posted on November 30, 2019 12:43

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Source: NPR
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