On Monday, right after coming back from the Eastern Highlands, we hurried to Borrowdale to run this week’s hash. The run was set by various maroons (marines) from the US navy. Their house. Man. Huge, separate fitness building, swimming pool, handball court, basketball court, well stocked bar, pool table, TV room with a huge plasma screen TV and enormous leather chairs *and* a cinema room. Sick.
On the Hash, I met Bianca, a German girl. She’s the granddaughter of the brother of Goebbels. Yes, the guy who died in the bunker with Adolf Hitler. Go figure. Hitler himself is only 5 degrees away from me (Bianca never knew her grandfather).
‘Thank you president Mugabe’
Meanwhile, this week, outside my window, down on the soccer field in the stadium, the army is practicing for its show of force on the 18th, Zimbabwean Independence Day. Marching, music, singing and low flying jet fighters. Originally, I really wanted to see the show come this Sunday, but Ivor almost went crazy when I mentioned this. It seems whities aren’t really appreciated on the 18th of April.
Later in the week, kids also were practicing. One big group on the terraces, holding colored signs to form big displays saying things like ‘3rd Chimurenga’, ‘Arrest inflation’, ‘Productivity’ and ‘Our land is our prosperity’ (which is also the theme of an annoying song that gets played on Zimbabwean radio every thirty minutes), another group on the field, walking, running, doing exercises and singing ‘Thank you president Mugabe’ over and over again.
Some weeks ago, I read an article on inZIM.com that predicted a very cold winter. It seems to already have started. Evenings and mornings are freezing. Yesterday morning, it was too chilly to wear shorts and I even considered putting on a sweater when going to work.
And yesterday, finally, I signed my contract. It still has to be signed by the Director General, but it appears that, after seven weeks, my working here is almost official. What’s even funnier is this. Last week, I created a document that recommends the to-follow IT strategy for the SRC, from building a network, through upgrading and servicing of existing hardware, to creating a sports information system. As a reference, I passed these documents on to Herman, my ICCO contact in the Netherlands.
I also told Herman last week that it’s not going all that smoothly over here and he suggested pushing the SRC from his side. And it worked. Suddenly, John started working on my contract again and the signed Terms of Reference, which still hadn’t made it to Herman, will now also be faxed to the Netherlands, maybe even this week. Remember, that the ToR, my contract and a job description all had to be part of the package needed for starting the application process for my residence permit. Therefore, all the work that is currently being done on all this has been done before already.
And to make things slightly more challenging, I’ve asked for the receipt from the immigration department. This was two weeks ago and I was forwarded throughout the organization a couple of times before ending up with Gerald, a clerk in accounting. The receipt can be useful at roadblocks and other police checks and entitles me to the local’s price at hotels.
For ten days, Gerald has been apologizing, promising me the receipt tomorrow morning. Yesterday, I had to sit with him in order for him to go through his archive. That is, his pile of papers on the floor. He didn’t find the receipt but was sure it had to be in his office somewhere.
This morning, I returned and the first thing he did was questioning whether he had the receipt and if I really needed it. This time he promised we go to the immigration office together to pick up a duplicate. To make sure I left with something, I sat with him so that he would write a letter that would state I’m working at the SRC and that they’re in the process of obtaining a work permit for me. The three-sentence letter took Gerald 35 minutes to write. When we arrived with it at the DDG’s office, the DDG wasn’t happy with the letter, so it had to be redone. I received it only minutes before I left.
Gerald and I did go, in the afternoon, to immigration. But all they had was a copy of the receipt with Betsy’s name on it. Not with mine. We went out to make a copy and bumped into a friend of Gerald who works at the immigration offices. He was able to get help from someone higher up in the chain, who turned out to be white.
This guy said he had sent a letter back to the SRC on March 19th, saying that Betsy and mine ‘registered cohabitation’ is not accepted in Zimbabwe, meaning we’re not seen as being married, meaning seperate immigration forms have to be submitted for Betsy. Back to square one.