If silence could talk – Cathy Buckle News

via Cathy Buckle News from Zimbabwe November 30, 2013

Dear Family and Friends,

The large banking and enquiries hall of the local government owned telephone company was all but deserted on the second last day of the month. One man, a security guard, leant against the wall staring out the window, a glazed, bored look on his face. ‘Are you open?’ I asked, surprised that there wasn’t anyone either manning the counters or waiting to pay their bills in the middle of the morning at month end. The guard nodded so I waited. Just the day before three bills had arrived in my post box and I had come to pay my dues. Before long a counter assistant appeared and I handed over the statements and money for three telephone and broadband bills that needed to be paid. Only one payment, for the broadband,  was accepted and I raised my eyebrows as the other two, and my bank notes, were handed back to me. On one account he had written : ‘Credit $ 277.55’  and on the other: ’Credit $ 241.27.’

This sudden credit to peoples bills is apparently going to cost the government owned telephone company 63 million US dollars and comes after President Mugabe’s pre-election, populist promise to bring relief to people who’ve been struggling to pay utility bills. As crazy as it may sound it didn’t feel good to not be paying my bills. I’d made the phone calls and used the telephone line and it’s only right I should pay for those services.  By not paying what I owed I almost felt as if I was somehow guilty and had joined this great Zimbabwean epidemic of not being accountable for my actions. ‘How will you survive?’ I asked the counter clerk. He didn’t say a word, just shook his head and shrugged his shoulders.

Meanwhile outside in the burning sunshine, it wasn’t just telephone bills that were abnormal in Zimbabwe this week. In Bulawayo when women members of WOZA marched to present a petition to a local minister at least 50 were beaten with police baton sticks while others were run out of town, chased by  policemen and leashed dogs while WOZA leaders were detained for three hours.

In the same week as women were being beaten and chased by dogs and for the first time in over four years there’s also suddenly a new banking crisis. They are calling it a liquidity crunch which in reality mean there’s not enough physical bank notes to meet people’s needs.  Front page newspaper headlines described how hundreds of people queued for hours outside banks in Harare  to make withdrawals. The accompanying photograph said it all and the paper revealed that banks were limiting withdrawals to between $200 and $1,000 per person per day. Instantly we were taken back into time to the horrors of 2007 and 8 when there was no money left to get out of the banks and when more than a dozen zeroes were removed from our accounts overnight. We don’t talk about this nightmare much anymore but we haven’t forgotten. The banks are as tight lipped now as they were then and one anonymous bank official was quoted this week as saying the press shouldn’t write negative reports about the latest ‘liquidity crunch’ as it would cause a ‘boomerang effect.’

The boomerang effect is an apt description of life in Zimbabwe at the moment as we continue to bounce backwards to where we came from at an alarming speed. Just 120 days after it ended it’s as if the four year unity government and the small gains it made had never existed. If silence could talk it would be tears running down our cheeks.

Until next time, thanks for reading, love cathy.



  • comment-avatar
    Antonio Delgado 8 years ago

    The saga continues with no end in sight except the lite at the end of the tunnel which is getting dimmer ……

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    suziq 8 years ago

    that is so sad..my opionian nobody in there right mind will ever invest in Zimbabwe not while the old man is in power, you would think he was concerned about his people, no way he is only concerned about ZANU-PF, NOT TO MANY OF THEM LEFT THOUGH

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    farai 8 years ago

    I must admit to a certain admiration of Cathy. She has conviction, guts and chutzpah to stay the course in her calling. A doomsayer of note, who will see no light and no hope but stays on to religiously feed the negative stereotype. A role she plays with such distinguished distinction. Cathy how did the Smith Government fund the numerous subsidies it offered the nation? Could these debt cancellations be an acceptance that full cost recovery under massive unemployment and sanctions is impractical? With all that she sees wrong, Cathy stays on because she has the personality of a mushroom, thrives in the dark. Yet I admire her more. I would love to arrange a forum where Cathy would meet Amai Jukwa, both women of immense conviction and fortitude!

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    jongwe power 8 years ago

    If people say and do nothing for 34 years, either that means they don’t have a problem with the way things are going, or they are too focused on their own things to care. Otherwise our circumstances would be completely different today. Maybe Mbeki was right when he basically told us to solve our own problems. He had his own country to worry about, so he didn’t need to care about ours.

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    Tiri Tose 8 years ago

    You should have insisted to pay and continue to pay your bills.

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    Mr Mixed Race 8 years ago

    Cathy,I like your comments,I also felt like you because Tel-One billing is very accurate and itemised in case there is a query .I get annoyed when you hear crooks in the street claiming that they have been wrongly billed,when I know that they are lying.I remember one day telling a lady who was complaining about her bill to get an itemised billing if she was sure that her bill was incorrect.She refused to get an itemised billing because I think she knew that her claim was incorrect.This nation has taught itself bad habits of not taking responsibilities of our actions.We are now a nation of SELF IMPOSED DEPENDENT SYNDROME.

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    Ephrain Gumbo 8 years ago

    As a former combatant I remain steadfastly loyal to our party and the principles upon which so many of our comrades sacrificed their lives. Never must we abandon our cause and the principles upon which our foundations were made. That being said, everyone is deeply concerned about what is going on and the way certain people are enriching themselves at the expense and misery of the entire nation. Who is fooling who? We need to get right back to our grassroots. The oppression in existence today is worse than it ever was under colonial rule. Pamberi ne Chimuranga.

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    Isu Zvedu 8 years ago

    Your joy is so short sighted and unrealistic. Its ok to rejoice when a cheque from nowhere is written in your name and you manage to cash it and buy groceries for that day. But Cathy does not see the microscopic view at individual level. She sees the marco, the issues that affect the nation today and beyond. Your comparison with Smith’s era is so baseless I have no words. Sometimes keeping quiet is better than displaying ignorance and stupidity like this guy Farai. I encourage the Farais and Mugabes to be men enough and bring back the Zim$ and be real about their sovereignity mantra. These piecemeal solutions to silence the poor will soon catch up on us as a nation. The total amount of money paid off as credit to phone bills however is change from the loots that get deposited in offshore accounts during these “illness” trips.

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    ZimJim 8 years ago


    Thanks, as always, for your insightful, beautifully written article.

    Best regards,


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    I like your reflections cathy