Last weekend was spent not doing much. On Saturday, Betsy and I bought some more statues and the Sunday was spent in the sun. There are some new guests in the lodge, one of whom is Victoire, an ‘African-American’ form Haitian decent who’s studying in New York to become an actor and is here to direct a play at some orphanage.
On Saturday, Tony, a rather right wing American retired navy guy, left after staying only five days. He had managed to visit Ian Smith at home. Smith, still living in Harare was a very vocal opponent of the country’s government in the 80s and 90s but now lives a rather quiet life. No doubt, also because his farms are still his own.
Together with Pete, owner of the lodge, they visited the old man (85 years old!) on Thursday morning to learn about his take on the current situation in Zimbabwe. Maybe not surprisingly, Smith kept his cards close to his chest, although it’s admirable he had no problem with allowing the two man into his house.
MDC in Chimanimani
Pete and Rachel arrived in Harare last week after they encountered some heavy artillery in Chimanimani. Some two weeks ago, Roy Benett, an MDC (the opposition party) MP and the only white MP in parliament, was verbally abused in parliament by two ZANU-PF MPs. He was told that he would never set foot on his farm again (which has been repossessed, illegally, even according to Zimbabwe’s laws) and that his forefathers were thieves. After years of abuse, he was fed up and made moves to hand out some fine uppercuts, but didn’t succeed.
A day later ZANU-PF supporters were demonstrating against Benett’s behavior in front of the parliament building. It has happened in the past that demonstrations like this were set up by promising participants food and beer afterwards. Some of the Ozzies who were staying at the lodge got caught up in this demonstration and were spat at by some ‘friendly’ people.
Last week, things escalated in Chimanimani, were Rachel and Pete live and have their office right next to the MDC’s regional office. The, according to the government Herald newspaper, peaceful demonstration completely sacked and trashed the office, before locking all whites in the region into their houses, kidnapping an old Finnish lady, marching her through the streets and forcing her to clean up the completely ransacked MDC offices on all fours. The peaceful demonstrators were wearing t-shirts with the slogan ‘All whites out by 2005’. Some people are now fearing that that very slogan will be the theme of next years parliamentary elections.
The exchange rate has been reasonably stable over the last six weeks or so, roughly since we’ve been able to use ATM to get money. The Zimdollar has been hanging around 6300 to the euro.
However, Wayne, who’s working for a gold mining company, told me that, since he started working at the company, some three months ago, the government (they’re obliged to sell all gold to the state) has only paid them in brand new bills. This suggests that the Zimbabwean government is printing cash like madmen. Inflation, here we come…