Sad news all around us
BIRDS OF A FEATHER: President Emmerson Mnangagwa and former leader, Robert Mugabe(Twitter image)

I miss writing something good, something positive about my country.

Sadly, nothing good seems to be coming our way as we wake up to depressing news almost every day.

As more disheartening tales of the effects of Cyclone Idai continue to emerge, we also have to deal with an economy in comatose, characterised by price increases and shortages of commodities.

On Sunday, the Ministry of Education revealed that 52 pupils and three teachers had been ‘swallowed’ by the cyclone while more than 70 pupils were still unaccounted for and presumed dead. A total of 87 schools had also been destroyed by the cyclone which hit the eastern parts of Zimbabwe two weeks ago.

United Nations agencies have also indicated that the death toll could eventually reach 1, 000 as scores of people are still missing while some bodies, believed to be of Zimbabweans, have been seen floating on the waters of Mozambique.

More bad news is expected as the government, non-governmental organisations and other various organisations continue to trace the missing and assess the damage caused by the torrential rains.

And while the nation is still dealing with this catastrophe, the economy has just taken another nosedive.
Long fuel queues have resurfaced again. In the past couple of weeks, the situation had been better as the queues were quite short but this week most fuel stations had run dry with no indication of when they would receive supplies.

Food prices have gone up, mobile network operators have increased their tariffs, and bank charges have risen while Forex rates on the parallel market have also shot up.

This basically means that incomes have been significantly eroded and the going is set to get tougher as some would say.

The new price increases seem to have been triggered by the government eventually making it official that the US Dollar is not at par with the bond or rather with the RTGS (Real Time Gross Transfer) as the bond is now called.

Before then, some prices were pegged under the illusion that they were also in the US Dollar yet we still paid in bond hence I could say some things were quite reasonable.

For example, my service provider for internet at home is TelOne, which is a parastatal. I used to buy a monthly internet package of $25 (P250.00) but they have since almost tripled the cost of the same package because the RTGS has been devalued.

In reality, in US dollar the price has not increased but in local currency, it is now quite expensive.

The official rate of the US$ and the RTGS is 1:3 while at the black market it is 1.4 which is quite high for both companies and individuals who wish to buy Forex.

Many companies are already in the red and struggling to operate due to Forex shortages. Talking of struggling companies, Olivine Industries, which was a big manufacturer of cooking oil, margarine and soap, closed shop due to foreign currency challenges and crippling debt.

Such is the desperate state of affairs engulfing our beloved country. Sadly our government seems clueless about what to do to save the situation.

As some people frequently point out, President Emmerson Mnangangwa is as bad as his predecessor, Robert Mugabe. The only thing he seems good at, just like Mugabe, is flying across the world with nothing worthwhile to show for his trips which cost the taxpayer millions of Dollars!