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The BBC's Jim Fish:
"Tendai has 12 mouths to feed"
 real 28k

The BBC's Cathy Jenkins in Harare
"Incidents of intimidation and violence are increasing"
 real 28k

Wednesday, 21 June, 2000, 11:49 GMT 12:49 UK
Zimbabweans rich and poor await change
Zimbabwe faces a genuine choice in the upcoming elections
Zimbabwe faces a genuine choice in the upcoming elections
By the BBC's Jim Fish

In the run-up to Zimbabwe's election, the opposition Movement for Democratic Change has been sounding increasingly confident of victory.

The MDC is aiming to end the 20 years of rule by the Zanu-PF party of President Robert Mugabe, saying its policies have widened the gap between rich and poor.


Tendai makes a day-long trek by foot and bus to get to work
Tendai makes a day-long trek by foot and bus to get to work
To test this, I first visited Mutsiyabako which truly lives up to its name.

In the Shona language, it means the back of beyond.

Every week, Tendai makes the day-long trek by foot and by bus to his work at a timber company, returning home every weekend.



We only see those people just before the elections, when we are about to elect them to their positions

Tendai Kuambirwa

With his mother and brother, Tendai has 12 mouths to feed.

He is grateful to the government for giving them land 14 years ago.

However, he also feels bitter at the politicians who promised - but never delivered - their most basic needs, such as a clinic and a road.


With his mother and brother, tTndai has 12 mouths to feed
With his mother and brother, Tendai has 12 mouths to feed
"We only see those people just before the elections, when we are about to elect them to their positions," he says.

"And after that they go away and we never see them again."

This year's maize crop was badly hit by the floods and storms - down to a quarter of the normal harvest.

Help from the government might ease the daily grind, but the only hands that help are their own.

Impatience for change


Lavish Emerald Hill: A wealthy Zimbabwe suburb
Lavish Emerald Hill: A wealthy Zimbabwe suburb
Meanwhile in Harare, some of the wealthy enjoy a Father's Day barbecue in Emerald Hill, one of the city's suburbs.

20 years after independence, only the few have tasted such lavish fruits of freedom.

Even for Dr David Chimuka, one of Zimbabwe's top heart surgeons, the future is clouded with fears.

"What I trained to do was to operate on the heart," he says.



We cannot get the foreign exchange to buy heart valves

David Chimuka, Heart surgeon
"But at the present moment the facilities are limited."

"We cannot get the foreign exchange to buy heart valves."

"We cannot get foreign currency to buy many of the disposables we need to perform our professional activities."

"So I kind of feel frustrated, but I can only hope that things will improve."

Among the elite, President Mugabe and the ruling party are still in credit for winning independence.


Dr Chimuka: We need to change our people...so that we can go forward
Dr Chimuka: We need to change our people...so that we can go forward
However, the impatience for change is tangible.

"My hope is that whoever comes in, whoever rules Zimbabwe will be able to realise that Zimbabwe needs to go forward, needs to change," says Dr Chimuka.

"And we need to change our people, the way we think, so that we can go forward."

Crushed hopes

In the village they too want change, but hope has been crushed too far to encourage faith in either political party, the old or the new.


Jesse Kuambirwa: I'm even doubtful about the opposition
Jesse Kuambirwa: Doubtful about the opposition
"I'm even doubtful about the opposition," says Jesse Kuambirwa.

"We don't know how effective they will be in terms of making life better."

Between the extremes of rich and poor, of promise and decay, Zimbabweans are for the first time facing a genuine choice but, whoever wins, real change will demand time - and patience.

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See also:

14 Apr 00 | Africa
Profile: Morgan Tsvangirai
20 Jun 00 | Africa
Zimbabweans feel 'let down'
17 Jun 00 | From Our Own Correspondent
The politics of fear
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