I hope nobody thinks that next week will be business as usual. This
private sector has gradually wound down its operations. The retail
most retailers carry stock for a month approximately, are the last to
down but already you can see empty shelves and shortages of all the
moving basic items are now widespread.
Butcheries and bakeries that work on stock levels of about a week are
already closed as their stocks ran out. The same with filling stations.
Manufacturers must work with quite significant stock levels -
imported items and they will run these down and then close unless there
U-turn on the part of the government and new directives which are half
There are no signs as yet as to what the State will do when this
occurs. But all that we are seeing and hearing right now are threats
insistence that this situation is going to be maintained for some time.
The most immediate problem is the very basics - fuel for transport
essential foods, maize meal, rice, bread, meat and milk. By Monday all
these will be virtually unobtainable. Farmers with pigs and poultry are
pondering what to do with their animals as they run out of stock feed,
farmers also face huge problems as they cannot pay their feed bills and
start winding down - how do you tell a cow in milk, used to being
three times a day, that she must stop producing?
Hundreds of thousands of workers and non-formal sector businesspersons
being faced with no work and are being forced to stay home - at
full pay, but in a few weeks what then? There is no law to turn to;
are no political leaders to go to with any sort of sense and authority.
are in the hands of a madman who has nothing to loose but his life and
his back to the wall and is using the only tools that he knows to try
stay afloat while the country drowns.
How will the average Zimbabwean respond? Friends of mine are doing a
trip to Francistown in Botswana - just 200 kilometers away, today.
buy what they need for next week and return. A few will do the same.
are going on holiday, unable to stand the specter of seeing all that
have built up over the past decades swept away. They are the lucky ones
what about the rest?
There is only one way out and that is across the Limpopo. I must warn
Africa that they will now face a huge upsurge in economic refugees and
had better brace themselves for that if nothing effective is done to
this madness. I mean hundreds of thousands of new, desperate, hungry
Zimbabweans flooding in and disappearing into the vast urban slums that
surround all South African cities.
The alternative is a military coup led by the junior officers with the
compliance of some in the ruling Party who see that this situation is
sustainable and that it is creating a regional crisis of substantial
proportions. Such an event would close the door to the SADC process
way today in South Africa and plunge the country and the region into a
political crisis that would require military intervention. Am I being
alarmist? I do not think so. The actions of this rogue regime in the
week have been enough to tip us over and into a state of crisis we have
never faced before.
Irreparable damage is being done to the country and if this is not
in its tracks by immediate and radical measures taken by regional
governments very serious consequences are going to follow.
The humanitarian and economic crisis that is about to break out in
is simply staggering and certainly way beyond the capacity of the
handle on its own.
Bulawayo, 7th July 2007