CAPE TOWN — To Zimbabweans who for whatever reason have stuck around through Bob Mugabe’s nation-wrecking and quasi-ideological nepotism and corruption, what long-standing local author Cathy Buckle describes below has become the norm. But as she so eloquently points out in her graphic word-sketch of life in Harare, none of the activities are normal in any civilised society with a modicum of functional government or service delivery. The city has turned into a giant market where anything and everything is hawked on the streets. A single sale can mean the difference between going hungry for yet another day or putting a meagre slice of bread on the table. From children to pensioners, all are involved in highly inappropriate activities driven by poverty – with not even basic sanitation or shelter in sight. From pavement tuck shops and clothes-sellers to currency exchange dealers idling in post offices while day-long queues wilt outside banks in the mid-day sun, it’s an almost apocalyptic vista. If you think President Cyril Ramaphosa’s reconstruction and making up of SA’s national bed to enable us all to sleep easier at night is difficult, imagine the task Zimbabwe’s next elected president faces. – Chris Bateman
In town along and across the main railway line near a busy intersection a hundred or more men, women and children have established a clothes market. Every morning they come carrying bags, boxes and suitcases stuffed with second hand clothes, shoes, handbags, rucksacks. Items are laid out for sale on plastic on the ground. There is no water, toilets or protection from the weather. Children sit out there with their Mums and Dads all day. It’s not normal for children to grow up like this.
- Cathy Buckle is the author of four children books. She has also written the non-fictional African Tears, the Zimbabwe Land Invasions, Beyond Tears: Zimbabwe’s tragedy, Innocent Victims: Rescuing the Stranded Animals of Zimbabwe’s Farm Invasions and Sleeping Like a Hare. The article was first published at cathybuckle.com.