Paying to give away your own company? Cathy Buckle

via Cathy Buckle News from Zimbabwe January 17, 2014

There’s nothing quite like five days without electricity to remind us how hard our lives were during the first decade of the 21st century and to warn us how tenuous our grip on normality is. The prolonged power cut in my neighbourhood left a fridge full of mould and fruit flies, all the food on the compost heap and tempers frayed to breaking point.  Add a couple of days without water to this picture and then decide whether to laugh or cry when you read the message that comes in on the cell phone from the Ministry of Health. ‘Prevent diarrhoea this season,’ it says, ‘ wash your hands with soap or ash under safe running water before eating or preparing food and after visiting the toilet.’ Safe running water is a joke when you haven’t had any water for a couple of days; safe food is absurd after five days without electricity and a fridge alive with mould.

As each month passes since the July 2013 elections it seems we could so easily slide back to the way things were a decade ago and every day the press reports back up our fears. A Ministry of Health whose hospitals owe US$36 million to suppliers and yet who’ve only been allocated US$23 million in this year’s budget. A Ministry of Education which needs US$73 million to help educate disadvantaged and vulnerable children but have only been allocated US$15 million for the program.

Meanwhile the 51% compulsory indigenisation of privately owned businesses remains a looming threat and there is no relief or clarity offered by authorities. The uncertainty has left no one spending money, companies shrinking and more and more workers being laid off. Fear of being targeted in the indigenisation issue has left most affected people not prepared to speak out, and not even prepared to publicise the absurd amounts of money they’re being told to pay.  Some of these amounts include US$20 to submit the mandatory indigenisation forms and then US$500 for born and resident Zimbabweans or US$5,000 for ‘foreigners’ to get a ‘compliance certificate.’ It’s not clear what any of this money is for, where it goes to,  if it’s a fee for not being black or if it’s going to prevent you from giving up 51% of your own company. It seems beyond belief that people are being made to pay for the bureaucracy that will facilitate them losing  51% of their own companies because of the colour of their skin.  Some ‘indigenous’ Zimbabweans seem to think that the mandatory handing over of a 51% shareholding of a private company is OK because they say the shares will be paid for. But does that make it right you ask; being forced to cede the majority shareholding of your own work? They have conveniently forgotten that farmers who bought their farms after Independence and then had them seized by the government, because of the colour of their skin, were promised compensation for fixed assets but fourteen years later 95% of us haven’t ever received a single dollar for the expropriation of our homes, businesses and life’s work.

Trying to make sense of it all I stood outside under a stormy night sky looking for answers. Clouds boiled overhead but every now and again the moon broke through. Almost full, it shed its  light on the branches of a big Musasa tree, exposing for a moment a little grey owl. Querulous and quavering were the best words I could find to describe its strange, haunting call. It sounded so far away and was almost inaudible over the voices of a million crickets but in fact the little owl was immediately overhead. I couldn’t resist a quick flash of the torch to see the little grey bird with its big round eyes staring down at me, its tail flicking in surprise, alarm or maybe just annoyance. Our lives and future in Zimbabwe feel very much like those adjectives: querulous and quavering. Until next time, thanks for reading, love cathy.


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    Yeah. 2008 is coming back with vengeance. Zanoids get even richer

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    For me, when the majority of the population think it’s ok that you can take away a persons property, business or life because of the colour of their skin then the social fabric of that country is in tatters. It’s no better than nazi germany or North Korea. The people who will take over from mugabe in the next couple of days are no better and this to me is the crux. To change this mind set of the average population will take a lot of effort and many many years or even generations. What I see in the new leaders is just greed and racism. I am sorry but even with mugabe gone, zims future is very very perilous

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    Don Cox 8 years ago

    The situation of white people in Zimbabwe is the same as that of Jews in Germany in 1933.

    The only safe thing is to leave the country. It doesn’t matter if your ancestors have been there for generations: the same applies to those Jews, and to Christians in Iraq, and other groups subject to racial or religious hatred.

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    John Alley 8 years ago

    Was thinking the same thing as Don Cox.
    It’s time to move on.

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    I think its a few people who believe in grabbing properties mainly less educated war vets, the politically misguided crooks like Jabulani idiots and those indigenous business people who want to benefit from other peoples’ sweat.These groups are just gangsters who can be easily controlled once you get a leader who will immediately change or replace the current heads of the security branches.The late Mr Chiluba in Zambia and others did it with great success.These gangsters are only powerful when the state machinery supports them but it is equally easy to neutralise them.They take orders from their bosses without questions asked.There is light at the end of the tunnel people!!!!!

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    Dear mixed race, not sure how to answer your statement apart from “Oh no it isn’t”. When Mugabe goes the next generation crooks are already in place with the wherewithall to continue with their stranglehold on the country. They will not, indeed cannot release their grip. They, their families (we all know who they are) and cohorts have far too much to lose.
    Someone else touched on the jewish/nazi terrible situation (I cannot think of any other appropriate word that would describe awful blot on mankind’s history). There too the jews stayed on either not believing the worst would happen to them or possibly just hoped that one man could do what they did to innocent civilians. In Zim these guys just want it all and they will take it, no question.

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    Len Cooper 8 years ago

    Don Cox you have gone over board. You cannot compare what happened to the Jews with the kids play that happened in this country. My grandmother, whose eldest brother was a holocaust survivor was shocked by your naivety.

    The truth is, I deeply resent Mugabe for dispossessing people who bought farms after being cleared by government. But the majority of black Zimbabweans do not hate white people. In fact, I have never been insulted by black people even when Mugabe was preaching hatred.

    We must give credit where it is due.