Zim: The good, bad news


Blessing Musariri Shelling the Nuts
At a party during one of my travels, I met a lady who on hearing that I was to return to Zimbabwe after my stay, gasped in horror and said; “Why would you want to go back to all those rapes and murders?”

For a moment I was discombobulated. What had just happened? Had I missed some vital part of the conversation?

Are we talking to each other still? Rapes and murders? I asked.

In Zimbabwe? Sure maybe, but not endemic. No more than elsewhere I’m sure, certainly not of war zone proportions. She asked me what Zimbabwe was like then and I told her that like anywhere else, there is good and bad and of course in recent years a lot more challenging and sure light at the end of the tunnel sometimes flickers alarmingly, but in the meantime, it’s good news bad news.

You wake up in the morning and the sun is shining, the sun almost always shines and this is good news. Bad news is that temperatures are going to rise throughout the day and rain will prove as elusive as a winning lottery ticket.

At night the choice between trapped heat behind closed windows and the mosquito choir singing in a very sharp voice, is a closely contested battle. But hey, you survive the night and in the morning, guess what? You wake up and the sun is shining all over again. Good news, you have a car and the days of petrol queues are just an anecdote. You have places to go and people to see. Out of necessity you are running a small business because finding a job is like looking for the needle with the smallest eye in a stack of needles, but you are managing to get by. You hop into your Japanese import and take your usual route into town. Good news again, they’re fixing the road, bad news, it’s not the rutted potholed barely-there excuse of a route to and from your house, but a main road that was perfectly fine with the exception of one or two potholes.

Good news, they have signs to warn you that the road is closed. Bad news the signs only start when you get to the closed road and after finding yourself blocked at every turn you are forced to return almost to your gate to begin the journey again with a different route altogether.

You wonder if they will ever fix any of the other roads that desperately need fixing and you daydream that because they seem to no longer remember that these other secondary roads exist at all.

They will simplify the citizen’s dilemma by issuing four by fours or other off-road vehicles to all registered car owners who cannot afford such. Good news, dreams are free. You finally get en route to town and good news, there are no police road blocks all the way so your heart can settle down because even though you believe you have everything there’s just no telling until they go through the list of possible infractions in a bid to help you lighten your obviously overburdened wallet.

Good news, in the eyes of the police and the ZBC, we are all cash rich, bad news, this is not true. Having a car does not equal cash in wallet. Good news, you make it to town with no mishaps and there is even parking spaces available. Bad news the parking attendant is all the way down the street. Good news, she sees you.

Bad news, she is busy in conversation with someone and is pretending you are a ghost. The someone is on foot and is not trying to pay for parking; they are simply having a good old chinwag, but good news, the sun is shining, bad news, it’s shining somewhat viciously and its initial charm has waned. Good news, the parking attendant finally saunters your way, bad news, she’s annoyed that you’re annoyed by her lassitude and she’s telling you have a parking fine on a street on which you’ve never been and on which you would have had no business overstaying for three hours.

You can count on one hand the number of times you have been to town in the last four months but bad news, she doesn’t care. She simply tells you what she’s telling you and that’s that.

You begin to smell a rat because this is the third parking fine you have received for streets on which you never parked and business you never did there but they print out the ticket anyway and meander away.

Good news, you’ve heard other people complaining about this kind of thing so you know you’re not alone but bad news they also told you they had to go to the headquarters to get it expunged.

This was not and should not be anywhere near your list of things to do because you are clearly not guilty.

Bad news, you have to add it on. Good news, you complete your business in under an hour, bad news, it requires you to come back. Good news, you’ll face that Lion when you meet it and it most likely won’t be soon because the person you are doing business with will likely experience several family or other emergencies and/or delays requiring their attention before they can finally get down to dealing with your stuff.

Good news, you can get home any time you like now because your life is no longer owned by zesa and your workers can return to regular sleep patterns instead of coming in at midnight to do the ironing and catching up with sleep at midday, bad news, you get home and your zesa credit is finished and you would have topped it up if all three places on your way home had not been offline.

Good news, you can buy a token through your mobile wallet, bad news, it’s empty.



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