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Introduction
 
Patrick, a businessman and civic activist, explains how political and economic unrest in recent years have disrupted both his business and his personal life. Patrick lives in Bulawayo the capital of Matabeleland, scene of army massacres in the 1980s.

I import electrical and mechanical parts. It is almost impossible to do business at the moment.

To bring things into the country, you need foreign currency. But at the moment, there are regulations which control foreign currency. The banks are not willing to give any out.

The foreign currency is being used by the government to import fuel, so if we want to bring things from outside the country, we have to use the parallel market - the black market - and the rates are very high.

The US dollar costs about 300 Zimbabwe dollars on the black market, and 50 Zimbabwe dollars at the official rate. We are still importing goods but it is cutting our profit margins drastically.

It is very difficult to survive at the moment and things are getting worse and worse as days go by. I'm just managing to get enough to send my children to school and keep body and soul together.

There's no way I can try to expand my company or make plans for the future; I just do what I can to stay alive. There's not even mealie-meal (maize) in the shops.

As soon as you are identified as being against the establishment here, strange things start happening.

Intimidation

My wife has received threatening phone calls and funny things happen when we're driving.

One time a pick-up truck came speeding out of nowhere and suddenly stopped in front of our car. The two men inside had a close look at us and then drove off - again at high speed.

This can only be the work of the security services. We get followed, get visits from the tax authorities, get inflated telephone bills. Documents have gone missing from my office.

Unrest in Matabeleland

From 1982 until 1987 soldiers were massacring unarmed civilians in this part of the country. It was called a civil war but it wasn't.

Like everyone who lives in Matabeleland, I was affected by that period.

One day, I was going out of the city to go to the funeral of my father's girlfriend. We saw a roadblock across the road and we were all told to get off the bus.

One of the passengers had fought for Zipra in the war (a rival liberation movement to Robert Mugabe's Zanla, led by Joshua Nkomo).

He was punched and kicked until he fell down. They carried on kicking him and hitting him with rifle butts as he lay on the ground. It was a sorry sight and it is still in my mind up to now.

Since then, there has been no development in this region, people have been moved in from other parts of the country to take jobs here.

Some of the people responsible for that are still in power today. They feel that the country is their personal property.


It is very difficult to survive at the moment and things are getting worse and worse as days go by

Funeral
As soon as you are identified as being against the establishment here, strange things start happening

empty shelves
They carried on kicking him and hitting him with rifle butts as he lay on the ground

Joshua Nkomo: Leader of Zipra
 
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