We’re all fed up with bad news. Zimbabwe used to be a leader in matters of Gloom and Doom - but that was long ago. Now so much of the rest of the world is in turmoil, we barely rate a mention in the press. And that’s why we’re so grateful that our donors still care about one little school in faraway Matabeleland south.
So here’s the good news – at last we have a kitchen for the ladies who this term are cooking lunch for upwards of 270 day scholars every day of the school year. This takes them hours – they cook in four huge cast iron three legged pots, stirring massive amounts of sticky maize meal porridge with their special sadza sticks; the children line up to be served according to age, starting with the youngest, and then finally they clean up and go home. And for years, the two ladies have been working under seriously unhygienic conditions, holed up in a tiny room with blackened walls, choking on smoke from the open fire.
Until yesterday, when the new kitchen, brick with a corrugated iron roof, open on all sides, complete with a door to keep the goats out, officially went into action.
That’s not the only good news. Thanks to our donors, the pantry is full of provisions that should last the children for at least two months – soya chunks, sugar beans, soup, salt and oil. And once again, Nigel Weller of National Foods, has provided 1.5 tonnes of mealie meal (ground maize) the staple diet of Zimbabweans, free of charge. Right now, this is nothing short of a miracle.
Zimbabwe is battling its worst drought in 40 years, and is in the midst of an economic collapse. That’s left about 8 million people, or more than half the population, in need of food aid, the majority of them in our province, the driest of them all. Some maize has been imported but right now, the supermarket shelves are empty, due to the Government cutting supplies to local millers by almost half.
The reason given is “funding restraints” which is rather hard to understand since only a few months ago, the President (while constantly admonishing his people to tighten their belts), flew to the United States to attend the UN General Assembly. As always, he chartered a luxury jet from Switzerland. His wife, keen to get there first for a spot of shopping and to promote her private charity, arrived a few days earlier with a state sponsored media team.
The cost of hiring the luxury jet was in excess of US$1.5 million, but for some reason it was nearly empty, as the President sent dozens of his aides on commercial flights. All in all an estimated 75 to 90 hangers-on attended at a cost of around US$7000 each to the taxpayer.
But Government has its own methods of creative accounting. Last week they published the Financial Adjustment Bill HB19 of 2019 in an attempt to offload US$10,6 billion onto taxpayers to cover borrowings that have been made without Parliamentary consent.
“How does a government blow $8 billion in just two years and preach austerity at the same time?” asked the Leader of the Opposition. It’s a fair question.
The teachers at Marula school receive a monthly government salary of $900 local currency, the equivalent of US$36 a month, but they are still in their classrooms doing the best they can with no support and few materials. They and the rest of the courageous people of this country are its strongest asset and they deserve all the help they can get.
Thank you for taking care of their children.