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Land of plenty reduced to desert

NEARLY 35 years ago I stood on the north bank of the Zambezi looking enviously at the land to the south. I saw a land of plenty with law and order regulated by what was reckoned to be the best police force in the world.

There was fuel, albeit rationed, work, electricity, food for all, and primarily no corruption.

I entered this Shangri-La in 1970 intending to work, pay my taxes, prosper and see my days out.

In 1980 Independence came along and thanks to a then perceived enlightened government, life improved and the majority of Zimbabweans prospered. A new enigma for Africa. Opportunity for all despite the Marxist-Leninist doctrine which thankfully was only half-heartedly embraced.

There were a few hiccups such as Willowgate scandal which was dealt with in the legal framework and the world looked upon us as a new example for Africa. Apartheid still reared its ugly head but we overcame that and business flourished, farmers were given letters of no interest, crime was relatively low, work was available, salaries were equitable to the cost of living and we were happy.

Unknown to most of us, clouds were gathering on the horizon. Government was living beyond its means, chefs were ageing but were not wealthy enough, and the unenfranchised wanted businesses. But except for a few, they had not the gumption, know-how or patience to start from scratch despite government hand-outs.

Half the population was under 15 and would require jobs and pressure was mounting. Panic and fighting fires instead of order and planning became the order of the day.

However, more serious problems were about and two devastating diseases: Aids and corruption were about to take their toll, followed closely by a catastrophic wake-up call to the hierachy, the constitutional referendum.

The chefs who had paid little heed to their people discovered their vulnerability and massed their war machine against the very people who had entrusted them with their well-being. The rest is for the historians to write.

I now stand on the south bank of the Zambezi looking enviously north. Our deposed farmers have promised us food and our tourists flock there.

Electricity, fuel and living necessities are available and in abundance.

Too old to start again, I sit in the sunshine (something the government are unable to regulate), my pension diminishing by the hour wondering how I could have been so deceived.



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