Cathy Buckle: Zimbabwe – Suffer continues – lessons for SA

The more one expects change, the more things stay the same, something Cathy Buckle was faced with when she returned to Zimbabwe after a short holiday. On arrival the natural beauty of the country softened the blow of the harsh realities faced by those living there – 90% unemployment, power cuts, lack of water and the list goes on.

It’s a sorry state of affairs and is a reminder to the rest of Africa of how the abuse of power can lead to the destruction of all things beautiful.

A short piece that should help dispel the absurdity of Jacob Zuma and a third term in its entirety. – Stuart Lowman

By Cathy Buckle*

After a couple of weeks out of the country it’s always great to come home to Zimbabwe. It’s a wrench to leave the wild beauty of golden beaches, Coconut trees and Mangrove estuaries where Palm-Nut Vultures and Mangrove Kingfishers have been your delights.

To leave a country where it’s not unusual to see four or even five people on a motorbike and where adults and children alike bath, fish and swim in puddles on the sides of the road.

Returning to Zimbabwe’s own treasures helps soften the blow of the absurd lives and situations that await as soon as you get home. The last of the spring leaves are still showing off on a few trees while others are crowded with flowers: white, pink, red, yellow and all shades of purple.


In the new leafy canopies the summer birds are singing, whistling, clicking and sizzling and the first sightings of Paradise Flycatchers and Plum coloured Starlings tell of the fast approaching rainy season.

Then you take a deep breath and get back into the system: police road blocks every ten kilometers; no water for days at a time; electricity power cuts for twelve to sixteen hours a day; generators roaring in the towns and the whole nation laying its wares out on the pavements, trying to survive 90+ % unemployment and ongoing job cuts.

Amazingly despite an estimated 20 000 – 30 000 job cuts in the last two months, many public officials still haven’t realized that they may be next: they don’t greet you, look at you or thank you when you go to their offices to do business.

Chewing gum, talking to their colleagues or on their cell phones they scroll up and down Facebook pages while you stand in front of them.

Read also: SA’s future? Bribe cash exhausted, Zim cops moonlight selling airtime, food

British Prime Minister Harold Wilson famously said in the 1960’s: “a week is a long time in politics,” implying that a lot of things can change in a short space of time but that’s not the case in Zimbabwe! Despite a fortnight away from a country dominated by crippling economic pressures, political fighting and power struggles, nothing had changed in Zimbabwe. The media was still full of the absurdities of our lives such as:

Government, not police, being urged to remove illegal settlers who had settled themselves along the Feruka oil pipeline outside Marondera.

Or the news that Mr Mugabe had given the same speech twice: once at his State of the Nation address and then again at the opening of Parliament.

Read also: Monty Python in Zim Parliament, Mugabe reads wrong speech, applauded anyway

Or this little gem from NewsDay newspaper : “The government’s verve to seize more land from white former owners has resulted in a mix-up in Marondera, where the State is said to have acquired one of its own farms owned by the Reserve Bank of Zimbabwe (RBZ), Mukuyu Estate.”

We wonder why the Reserve Bank should be owning a farm in the first place but say nothing because this, like everything else is ‘political.’

While this craziness has gone on for more than fifteen years, it’s little wonder that an estimated three or four million Zimbabweans crawled under and climbed over border fences, swam through crocodile infested rivers and risked their lives to get away and most haven’t come back.

Imagine if they too had joined the flood tide to Europe and insisted that they be taken in; imagine if Europe had given in to our desperate citizens too; if they had laid on buses and ordered their member countries to resettle us legally too. We too just wanted and still want exactly what they want: a better life.

Imagine if the AU had been as humane as the EU, acknowledged why four million people were on the run and put the plight of ordinary people first. The AU and EU: like chalk and cheese.

As we say in Zimbabwe: Suffer continue.

* Cathy Buckle is the author of four children books. She has also written the non-fictional African Tears, the Zimbabwe Land Invasions, Beyond Tears: Zimbabwe’s tragedy, Innocent Victims: Rescuing the Stranded Animals of Zimbabwe’s Farm Invasions and Sleeping Like a Hare. The article was first published at

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