Dear Morgan, Robert …….and Arthur

BY the time you reach an agreement there will be no-one left to govern … nobody worthwhile, I mean, because the middle class will all be gone. They’ve held on and held on, but alas, cannot hold on any longer.

You will have a nation of the super nouveau riche and those wallowing in abject poverty … and no-one in between. Or maybe that is your strategy.

I am a middle class forty-something professional. I have nearly two decades of solid corporate experience under my belt and have travelled in the region and internationally, representing both my employer and the country.

I am a proud product of both the now derelict and moribund University of Zimbabwe and the country’s formerly superior primary and secondary education system.

For a number of years I can confidently say my profession was progressing well, steadily.

I was well paid, with benefits that afforded me an above-average lifestyle, punctuated by local and regional holidays, which were not too heavy on the pocket.

 Weekends meant a shopping basket specifically for the inevitable braai with a small group of friends; and perhaps a meal out on Sunday.  It also meant a few extra goodies or treats for retired parents whose pensions, then, still afforded them a reasonable standard of living.

What has changed? Everything! I can no longer afford to feed myself, let alone my parents. Did I mention that I earn Zimbabwe dollars, like most corporate professionals in this country?

That means that on daily cash withdrawals of $500 000 it does not matter what I am paid, I have no purchasing power as goods and services are now payable huge amounts of Zimbabwe dollars or in foreign currency.

I’ve been given many generous salary increments as inflation has crept up, then gallopped, but these have failed to keep abreast of hyperinflation, nor can I access these funds in the quantities that enable me to make meaningful purchases.

The result is that I cannot feed myself; I have been ruled out of the equation, obliterated, just like that. That is how a middle class professional finds herself confronted with the question –– do I stay or do I leave, now?

Initially, after informal dollarisation, my meager foreign currency savings were able to offer a reasonable buffer.

 I felt at one point that I would make it; I even looked down upon those poor souls who had no foreign currency. But that was months ago and my savings have dwindled; I am jostling with those same poor souls who are not afraid of doing whatever it takes to survive, and actively engage in (shady) deals which generate foreign currency, unencumbered by my fine education which regulates my own behaviour.

Overnight, they can now afford to shop where I was once a high networth “special” customer. Unlike them, I do not generate or earn foreign currency, so I am robbing and cheating myself by using savings for recurrent expenditure — food for that matter, and unlike my parents, owing to hyperinflation, my Zimbabwe dollar pension will be a pittance.

I’ve just seen a friend who explained with much sadness that after much soul searching and heart-ache she, a banker, and her engineer husband, are emigrating to South Africa. Her words were: “I asked myself what it will be, an empty fridge here or the allure of a heavily laden fridge seasoned with  the prospect of crime, south of the Limpopo.

This year has been tough. I’d rather feed my family. I refuse to lower my standard of living any further.”

So that’s another professional couple gone, Morgan, Robert ….and Arthur, and there are dozens like them who are either packing, finalising work permits or on the internet searching for regional and international placements.

Like me, they’ve lost confidence in this negotiated process which has so far yielded more suffering and has made Zimbabwe the laughing stock of the southern hemisphere. To those who ask, I can no longer justify staying in Zimbabwe, to them, and to myself.

I have already lost 10-15 years of my active working life to Robert and his clowns; I will never get them back. If normal conditions of service apply, I only have 15-18 years remaining before retirement; for how long can I go on in Zimbabwe, knowing that I will surely be the loser?

I am not a “dealer” neither do I believe I can transform into a gold panner or ngoda digger in Chiadzwa. I am just a well trained professional, an asset to my organisation and country, and I believe that my country needs me. I genuinely believe this, and that’s why I stayed, but the price has become too high.
When you have finished carving up the country, ask yourselves, who will be left? 

F Mpofu,