Wednesday, April 15, 2009

The Drug Addict

Zimbabwe limps along as if drug addicted. Addicted to an avarice perhaps unsurpassed in human history. Farms continue to be looted – not for anything other than the current crop on the land, the implements, the door frames and the window frames of the homestead. Earlier this week I spoke to a former farmer from Centenary. Yes, she had been back to the farm. All that she could identify was a hole in the ground that had once been the swimming pool. There wasn’t anything else to be seen but a track and seemingly virgin bush.

If the looters actually wanted to replace the farmer and farm, it would be greed alone. But they do not want to farm. They just want to loot and leave, move on to the next farm. Every farmer that is moved off the land is another nail in the Zimbabwean agricultural coffin and the return to production and the generation of wealth. So the greed must be combined with some other motive or, if not, then it is as irrational and mindless as it is greed and avarice.

You can be sure that the mindless morons who are chasing away the farmers are not the minds behind the campaign. So something else is at work here. The minds behind the campaign have to be the ZANU PF hierarchy of thieves and they are after something else. They are afraid – afraid of losing their privileged status, afraid of losing their power.

So we are drugged by greed, fear and the need for power. Add ‘stupidity’. And the GNU seems powerless to stop it. South Africans beware - it seems you are following close behind.

On another front yesterday we were told that ZIMRA (The Zimbabwe Revenue Authority) was setting up toll roads with effect from the 20th April – just 7 days away and published their intent in the Government Gazette dated the 9th of April. They went as far as distributing a schedule of roads to be subject to the toll and the prices per mode of vehicle. All major roads were listed, all points of entry. A haulage vehicle travelling from Beit Bridge to Harare would have to pay a $20 toll at the point of entry and then negotiate four ‘toll points’ between Beit Bridge and Harare at $10 a toll. A total of $60 or R600.

Today we are told the whole exercise has been shelved pending the establishment of toll gates and just perhaps the training of the collectors and the provision of the other tools required to do the job.

The regulations say that ‘transit vehicles’ are exempt. I wonder how a collector is going to identify a ‘transit vehicle’, other than perhaps a haulage vehicle with a load manifest?

It is worth noting that the Toll Roads in South Africa are complimented by ‘alternative routes’ of a very high standard. Not so Zimbabwe where, if and when it happens, you can take the Toll Road or the Toll Road. There will be no alternative.

Yet all the years I have been here I have been paying my vehicle road tax and one can sure, so has everyone else. What has the government done with the money? The usual – it has been looted for personal gain while the roads have deteriorated into death traps.

At the end of the day there is perhaps no alternative than to implement the road tolls. The roads won’t be repaired from empty coffers. One can only hope that when it happens the collections are used for the purpose they are intended. In terms of recent Zimbabwean history, that seems unlikely.

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