Zimbabwe Thunberg and Van de Merwe

This week the Zimbabwe government got out of their obligation to pay doctors a vaguely liveable salary. Zimbabwean millionaire and philanthropist, Strive Masiyiwa and his Higher Life Foundation has established a fund that will pay junior doctors three hundred US dollars a month for the next six months. Can you imagine doctors in any other modern country working for this sort of wage? Anyway, Tawanda Zvakada who is a spokesman for the Zimbabwe Hospital Doctors Association said: “This is not a long-lasting solution but it is an opportunity for our members to go back to work and finish their training.”

While this deal was being finalized the Supreme Court ruled this week that all debts incurred before the 22nd Feb 2019 will be settled in the local currency on a one to one basis with the American dollar. That is ridiculously cynical but the ruling was made by Chief Justice Luke Malaba, the very same Judge who ignored all the evidence, to rule that Crocodile Mnangagwa won Zimbabwe’s 2018 disputed election! In the week that Justice Malaba made the currency/debt ruling, the bank rate for US$1 was Z$17 and the black market rate was US$1 for Z$25.

To put Justice Malaba’s ruling into context: if someone owed you one hundred US dollars in Feb 2019, they can now pay you back one hundred Zimbabwe Bond dollars which today is only worth the equivalent of four US dollars.

Undoubtedly this ruling will benefit the well-connected and the political elite, because who else can access large amounts of money in a bankrupt country? Borrow a million, pay back fifty thousand. What a bargain for Zimbabwe’s big borrowers; they must be rubbing their hands in glee. Legal commentator Alex Magaisa calls this the ‘great heist’ and he is right. It is a damned disgrace but nobody can do a thing about it.

Yet while the government is off the hook with doctors and off the hook with debts, they are doing nothing about teachers who are earning the equivalent of forty US dollars a month and can’t afford to do their jobs. When a schoolteacher and his students in Bulawayo held a demonstration recently to highlight the absence of teachers and the huge school fee increases, police launched a manhunt for the teacher who had gone into hiding. Bulawayo biology teacher Brian Mutsiba subsequently released a letter which reads in part: ‘The presence of officials from the President’s Office, Military Intelligence and Prisons intelligence on that fateful day is testimony enough that there are threats on my life.’

Of course there are. Zimbabweans are not allowed to criticise officialdom and yet if there was any doubt about the need for Mr Mutsiba’s demonstration, the Zimbabwe Schools Examination Council have announced that there was only a 31.6% pass rate in November’s O’ Level exams. There’s a shameful irony about a manhunt for a biology teacher when teachers can’t afford to go to work and children can’t afford to go to school.

In the meantime, the president continues to fly around the world in chartered aircraft and world leaders continue to ignore his excesses. The Crocodile is out of touch with reality I’m afraid but he is tacitly allowed to get away with it.

Also out of touch with reality is teenage environmentalist Greta Thunberg, who gave another hysterical speech at the global bunfight this week in which she claimed, “Our house is still on fire. Your inaction is fuelling the flames by the hour. We are still telling you to panic, and to act as if you loved your children above all else.

‘We don’t want these things done in 2050, 2030, or even 2021,” Thunberg said. “We want this done now.”

I find it vaguely significant that she doesn’t vent her spleen at the main polluters of the planet – China and India.

Sixty percent of CO2 emissions since this strident little girl was born are attributable to China, but nobody talks about that. They talk as if its somehow Europeans and Americans who have to fix this problem. This is not only wrong but it is frustrating because Europe and America alone have no hope of doing what Ms Thunberg is screaming about. Let her go to Beijing, Delhi or even Africa and harangue the politicians there. I fear she will have little impact and will probably end up in gaol which is probably why the rest of us have to endure her angry ranting.

And you know, the British authorities – and I rarely have anything good to say about them – have done a great deal to avert the global catastrophe that Thunberg keeps yammering on about. CO2 emissions in this country peaked in 1973 and are now at their lowest level since Victorian times, Air pollution has plummeted since then too with sulphur dioxide levels down ninety five per cent. Britain’s population is rising but energy consumption peaked in 2001 and has since fallen by nineteen per cent.

God spare us from the rantings of children who really don’t know what they are talking about.

On a lighter note, I liked the story of Hennie Van de Merwe who went with his wife to the Pretoria Agricultural Show a couple of weeks ago. One of the first exhibits they stopped at was the breeding bulls. On one pen there was a sign that proudly proclaimed that the bull inside had mated fifty times in the previous year.

Mrs Van nudged Hennie in the ribs with a smile and said, ‘He mated 50 times last year, that’s almost once a week.’

Hennie ignored her but on the next pen there was a sign that told them that the bull inside had mated one hundred and fifty times the previous year.

Obviously impressed, Mrs Van gave Hennie a healthy jab in the ribs and exclaimed, ‘See Hennie – that’s more than twice a week. You could learn a lot from him.’

The third bull they looked at had a sign on his pen that said, in capital letters,

THIS BULL MATED 365 TIMES LAST YEAR

Mrs Van was so excited that her elbow nearly broke Hennie’s ribs and she said, ‘That’s once a day Hennie. You could really learn something from this one.’

But Hennie had had enough and he said to his wife, “Go over and ask him if every time was with the same old cow.”

There are no set visiting hours in the Intensive Care Unit at Pretoria general hospital, but anyone wanting to see Hennie is advised to check with the hospital first as he is not a pretty sight.

Sorry; that is my anti Afrikaners joke for the year – perhaps!

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