Home » Governance » Rushing Red Rivers [column]

Dear Family and Friends,

Driving towards Zimbabwe from a neighbouring country recently it was hard not to be overwhelmed by two dramatically different sights that seem to tell the story of the subcontinent so well. Through every town and village you see such poverty and people living in such primitive conditions that it’s hard to believe these are places in the 21st century. People bathing in rivers, washing clothes in rock pools, carrying enormous burdens of food or wood on their heads, crushing rocks to sell stones, living in mud walled houses roofed with grass, reeds or plastic. And everywhere people are making a living on the side of the road, selling everything from live animals to meat, fish, fruit and vegetables, cheap clothes, furniture, machines and all manner of electrical goods.

On the other side of the coin is the dramatic beauty that surrounds

this gruelling poverty. Brilliant blue skies, towering kopjes, vast

open plains, rushing red rivers, giant trees and a treasure trove of

spectacular birds whose colours are so bright and gaudy that you

wouldn’t believe they were real unless you saw them with your own


When you get to the border to come back into Zimbabwe, reality

returns. How long will it take before someone is holding their hand

out for a bribe you wonder? It doesn’t take long at all. Barely have

you closed the car door when a crush of men are offering to get you to

the front of the queue and ‘rush’ you through immigration and

customs formalities. They don’t take no for an answer lightly

persistence is definitely their middle name. With all the formalities

completed there comes the dreaded boom at the exit gate where an

apparent official who is not wearing a uniform or carrying any

identity makes a bee line for you. After ten minutes of absurd

demands, un-provable requirements and un-documented regulations, he

finally gets fed up and says: “Oh just give me something and you can

proceed.” Corruption has sadly become the most dominant feature in

Zimbabwean life: everything has got a price and everyone wants their

cut. That this should happen at our border posts, the shop window into

our country, makes us hang our heads in shame.

After a time away from Zimbabwe it is always great to be home but oh

so disappointing that nothing seems to change. There was news of a

brutal attack on a Guruve farm where father and daughter, Malcolm and

Catherine Francis, were left beaten and unconscious and both

subsequently died. Then the tragic news of ten fatalities in yet

another accident involving a minibus. And then, a little light in a

gloomy tunnel, the news that constitutional lawyer, Justice Alfred

Mavedzenge, has filed a High Court application seeking to compel the

Zimbabwe Electoral Commission to make the voters’ roll public. For

all of us in Zimbabwean it is still unbelievable that we went into the

July 2013 elections without ever having seen the voters roll and even

more unbelievable that it has still not be seen ten months later.

Until next time, thanks for reading, love cathy. 23rd May 2014.

Copyright Cathy Buckle.


Source : SW Radio Africa