The crack in the rock by Cathy Buckle

via The crack in the rock by Cathy Buckle | SW Radio Africa  Friday, March 21, 2014

Dear Family and Friends,

In the bush the other day I sat watching two long-legged riverside birds on a small rocky island in a dam. For a long time they seemed unperturbed by my scrutiny but when they both turned and ran into a patch of tangled shrubs in a hurry, I knew something was up. From nowhere a shiny grey reptilian head appeared over the top of the rock.

Its camouflage was excellent, skin colour blending exactly with the rock, spots on his head looking exactly like blotches of lichen on the granite. The mingled, reflected glare from rocks and water made it hard to identify at first but when a long black forked tongue flicked out to scent the air, I knew it was a leguaan (Monitor Lizard.) From the size of his head he was obviously a fair size but that remained a mystery. There was no time even for a quick photograph because suddenly the leguaan completely disappeared into a crack between the rocks and was invisible again. This is exactly how life is in Zimbabwe nine months after the last controversial election: haze and reflections, clever camouflage and big scary things hiding in plain sight.

Sensational headlines in the last couple of weeks have left an already suspicious, sceptical Zimbabwe wondering what’s really going on.

After weeks of dramatic media exposures of CEO’s in government organisations and parastatals earning huge salaries ranging from 40 to 230 thousand US dollars a month, the Cabinet finally waded in. The Finance Minister announced that with immediate effect the highest wage in all state enterprises, parastatals and local authorities was to be six thousand US dollars a month. Included in this total amount are the ‘allowances’ that people have been getting which are unbelievably disproportional to their actual pay. One example cited was of a Town Clerk earning two thousand dollars a month but getting an additional seventeen thousand dollars in benefits and allowances every month. In a country where 80% of people are unemployed, where university graduates sell airtime on the roadside, where qualified teachers earn less than five hundred dollars a month and where all state enterprises are collapsing, these amounts are truly shocking. The excessive greed of a few at a time when so many are suffering is nauseating.

As disgusted as we are by the gargantuan salaries that have been exposed so far, everyone knows it’s the tiny tip of a massive iceberg. We also know that by slashing someone’s salary from say forty thousand a month to six thousand is going to generate another huge set of problems: law suits, even more corruption and asset siphoning and perhaps even a renewed brain drain from our teetering country. Asked why it had taken five years for the government to do something about these huge salaries, the Minister of Finance said:

‘There was too much quarrelling in the inclusive government and we could not focus our energy on anything.’

So far no one’s publicly questioning the salaries, allowances and ‘benefits’ of senior government members or how they managed to amass such vast visible wealth while Zimbabwe was collapsing. One clue came in dramatic front page headlines: ‘Don’t blame sanctions, says Mugabe.’ The President said : ‘I will ensure that we don’t go back to the time of saying sanctions are the reason we are failing to pay civil servants. We have the resources, the gold sector for example, they are very easy to get money from.’ With statements like these Zimbabweans are again left reading between the lines, looking at the crack in the rock, wondering what’s really in there, hiding in plain sight.


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    Cathy the statement about lawsuits that they are trying to sell is a smokescreen. If these corrupt people are prosecuted how can they sue. Everybody knows that crimes were committed. There will only be lawsuits if these guys are just dismissed from their employment. You are very right to say Zimbabweans will again be left reading between the lines, looking at the crack in the rock, wondering what’s really in there, hiding in plain sight. The only other explanation is that the authorization for these salaries came from the very top.

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      apolitical 9 years ago

      From Independence a culture of corruption has crept in.
      The inclusive government increased corruption and while those with little logic blame the current government the MDC ministers and councilors reached a high in perks and immoral salaries.
      The anti corruption committee directed by the opposition didn’t bring one case before the courts.
      Now we have a stable government and the corruption is ermging being investigated – instead of saying what an improvement we say it all their fault MDC were angels and are exempt from criticism.
      We state absolute rubbish saying that things were better under the former MDC minister of Energy who formed the boards now disnmissed and as is emerging now inflated tenders with his directoe girlfriend stealing millions at a time.
      The opposition party was a terrible mistake with a gang od crooks ascended from the unions was a huge mistake. Yet no one admits it – for the first time in history former MPS that failed demanded packages!!
      We were better simply changing individuals in the current government through the ballot.
      How many of the promises did the opposition keep, read the turn around in the signed and sgreed GPA which was in stark contradiction to the principals they adopted to raise campaign funds. We were all conned but no one has the guts to say it, they don’t like looking stupid.
      Some cite Roy Bennet as honest without considering his CV – He said to government ‘take my farm and the bank overdraft with it which is nmore than the farm is worth. Called fraud in the civilized world – consider the bank manager who trusted him and the bank.
      Then he reprrssented himself in parliament getting into a fight and the injustice of being prosecuted illustrating clearly his loyalty to his electorate when really he was simply representing himself and whatv he could make like thec rest. So impressed were the other senior party members with his outright dishonesty they made him treasurer of the party.
      I mean an individual who can con and publically comit fraud like that is ideal in such a party.
      Lets simply open our eyes and appreciate that corruption and misuse of public funds is finally being dealt with.
      Assist by demanding that assets be attached and heavy prison sentences that the death sentence be brought back for those involved in economic sabotage at Zesa.
      Lets support what is happening right now rather than say we don’t like this guy jail him – lets encourage proper investigation and support those trying, where for the first time the state of corruption is being publicized rather than hidden by MDC.
      I f we want Zimbabwe to go forward we have to support it when it starts to happen, not be political and want to blame all of Zanu and be upset that MDC individuals have been caught in their hundreds.
      We should be against all that are corrupt not simply blame a political party, blam e the individual, and support any investigation simply demanding deterrent sentences and the return of public funds, its the only way we can move forward.
      If you are tempted to go anti-government consider, why nothing was in the press when MDC were in control of the troubled parastatals and they had a huge opposition press base, could they in much the same way as they looted councils, be much of the problem emerging now.

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        roving ambassador. 9 years ago


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        Mwanawevhu 9 years ago

        Really!!!.What is all this ranting all about. If you start using your small brain you will come to the conclusion that Zanu PF ministers and cadres are the ones owning billions of dollars in assets and cash in Zimbabwe and abroad at the time when the majority of Zimbos are languishing in poverty. Tell me one MDC former minister or cadre who has amassed such wealth. You my friend should be given an honorary degree in stupidity

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        APO This “speech” of yours was the srtategy of the “f” mug and zanupf before the elections. Win at all costs then abide by or pretend to the un,us .,then beg like the beggars you are.!!!!! and keep your riches safely away and plead poverty for the zims nation. You scum suckers of africa need to realize that the benevolence of the western world will eventually run out.!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!111

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      hypocrite 9 years ago

      I agree with you totally. Nothing will happen as the corruption starts at the very top…

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    Senzachena 9 years ago

    Does anybody really believe that they will only earn $6000.00 per month from now on! Dream on! They will retain the status quo, just hide their immoral earnings in different ways. Which of course is fine as it will hasten the eventual total collapse which is fast approaching, roll on the day!

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    Simba I wish you were right, but sadly Africa has an ability to sink to levels that many other human’s would not be able to cope with. Sadly the end might still be long in coming. Until the people rise up and say ENOUGH the suffering will continue.

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    The problem with Apolitical is that he does not get what people are trying to say here. Nobody says MDC are angels. What you say about the Ministry you keep talking about may well be true. What I don’t get is why you don’t go into the same Ministry prior to the GNU and now. Why are you not talking about all the corruption that has been exposed right now. Why is the Government not arresting the ex Minister you talk about. Surely they have the same information that you have. Things got better during the GNU but they were by no means normal. In any case Zanu pf minus the GNU’S 5 years had 29 years on their own where the economy declined. Do you expect us to pretend it did not happen and look at the GNU only? Oh yes you will blame Sanctions. You can go on and on about that particular Ministry but there are other Ministries that Zanu pf was in control of and they were and still are rotten to the core. As I said Zanu pf does not learn from it,s failures. They just sweep under the carpet and start to recycle again.

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    Cathy I want to correct your statement.Please avoid using the words earned because they did not earn these salaries they looted them with the help our our leaders from both parties.
    @Apolitical-you are wrong to think all of us supported the GNU or the MDC involvement.I was the first person on this website to criticize the activities of the MDC.
    In fact the MDC councilors have done worse to Byo than the ZANU-PF in my opinion whether or not their activities were being controlled by the misguided minister,thus not my business because true leaders resign if their mandated goals are deliberately hijacked.
    They have councilors who do not want to be opposed and they try to punish you if you disagree with them on issues.I dealt with ZANU-PF in the earlier days,I found them easy to approach and discuss issues logically and get results NOT with the rude MDC councilors.I have never liked ZANU-PF policies but their councilors were people I could forget politics and work with them for the good of Bulawayo.
    No one will challenge the new ruling on these salaries because they were authorized by corrupt boards with the ministers approval.Thus why all the ministers are quiet and hoping that the minister of finance will not go farther and investigate them.
    I have a feeling that the salaries were deliberately authorized by the relevant ministries for political gains in the process of destroying the opposition.This guaranteed total support for the ruling party by the CEOs of all important organisations.However, these CEOs took advantage of the system and gave themselves beyond what the ministries had planned.

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    just saying 9 years ago

    Cathy I usually enjoy reading your articles & agree with most of your sentiments however I disagree with two points you make in this one. I would welcome these C.E.O.’s taking the matter to court when it appears very likely that they didn’t pay any income tax on these amounts they received. Also I doubt government would continue to cover for people who take them to court. Secondly should they choose to leave this can hardly be considered a brain drain as it would leave opportunity for decent Zimbabweans to be employed. We need people of integrity to be appointed. Any prospective employer who does their homework would hardly be interested in employing these tainted C.E.O.’s.