Potholes and Urban Toll Gates


This is the back story for today’s rant. It’s a bit of an old rant but hey, a rant is a rant. So the Government of Zimbabwe has decided that there are going to be urban toll gates around Harare. It seems like that want to further fleece us poor motorists off our hard-earned peanuts. Already we are double taxed on fuel and also when we pay our road tax. Now they want to try and implement a system that will eventually reduce the number of cars and congestion that is in the CBD. It’s a very noble gesture. Less traffic in town will make it more bearable to walk around town, there will be less noise pollution and air pollution as there will be less cars driving around. As I said, all very admirable.

The issue I have is that as much as they are the government and they care not what the inhabitants of their country think, it would be nice if they had a consultation with us about this issue. Even if we, the residents of Harare, flat out refused for urban tolls and they went ahead at least we would feel like they listened to what we had to say.

There are too many flaws with this idea. So I’m going to talk about a brief aside.

This is the congestion zone in London
This is the congestion zone in London

So in London they have what is known as a congestion zone. Essentially it’s certain parts of central London where you have to pay a fee to enter with a car Monday to Friday from 6am to 6pm. On the other hand, if one needs to get to those parts of London and doesn’t want to drive then the next option is public transport which in fact, is in HUGE abundance.

It works because there is another option as a form of transport. Harare has our wonderful commuter omnibuses and our private cars that turn into people carriers. So now the next question becomes will commuter omnibuses and other public transport operators be charged at the toll gates? Where will these toll gates be placed?

Or Kombi for short
Or Kombi for short

With the hard times that have befallen a lot of people in this country, I can almost guarantee that most of us will find a way around the toll gates. In the urban areas of Harare, there is always a way around. It is very different from the toll gates on the highways. Very often there isn’t a road that can take you around a toll gate if you are trying to avoid them. You can’t most of the time. In town, people will find a way around them. I know I will.


Learn Something New

So what started off as a potential rant about the fact that not 10% into his total sentence, Oscar Pistorious is going to be released under house arrest in August of this year. I still wonder if he is going to have a house arrest party. Seeing as he can’t leave he might as well invite his friends (if he has any) for a good old fashioned braai. I would suggest that none of his friends use the bathroom.

Anyway while I was preparing to rant about this I decided that I would do a brief research into Sharia Law and use it as a basis to how I felt about Oscars house arrest party. I ended up going down a rabbit hole that was a little deeper than I had anticipated.

Feel free to correct me where I am wrong, but basically Sharia Law is (mostly according to wikipedia) the Islamic legal system derived from the Quran and the Hadith (A collection of teachings, sayings and deeds from the Prophet Muhammad). So far so good. It gets a little more complicated because depending on which Islamic country or state it is, they have different but almost similar ways of dealing with administering their law. Some places are a little harsher than others. For example, some do not believe that the Quran states that stoning someone to death as a punishment is clearly stated in the Quran, whereas other do.

They do have one thing that I found to be quite fascinating. One of the ways that the law is meted out is through retribution (my choice of word. Thats not what its called but I am writing from memory and not copy and pasting from wiki). Basically what was done to you (if it was illegal that is) will be done to the perpetrator. So for example there was this woman who had acid put in her eyes and she went blind. When she was asked in the court what she wanted in return she requested that the person who had blinded her also have acid dropped in his eyes. She stopped them at the last second before they blinded the guy.

I mean wow! That’s frightening to be honest. Obviously then there is if you steal you lose a hand. The good old dismemberment. Funnily while I was reading there was something that said they sometimes will also take an opposite foot. So the left hand goes and right foot. That is extremely frightening. At least you know that there is very little theft that happens in those countries.

What was disappointing was the issue regarding extramarital sex and the establishing if a woman was raped. If a woman comes claiming she was raped, she has to come with four male eye witnesses to the incident. This makes it virtually impossible in some countries to establish rape (As I said, different countries and states adopt different “types” of Sharia Law). Whats worse is if she makes the claim (true of not) and doesn’t have sufficient evidence then she is the one who gets punished.


I hope this isn’t taken as me being anti-Islam or anything, but I don’t think I will be visiting any Islamic states coz this Sharia Law is some crazy ass shit. I didn’t understand all I read, but what I did, it’s clearly a very serious law. It is also quite old and as it’s tied to their religion we can’t tell them to keep up with the times. In fact it’s even hard to try and judge it, as it’s their law. It’s ok to judge the system we have accepted with impunity, but harder to judge someone else’s.

The sad thing is we are human so we will judge it anyway

War With Vendors Aborted

Well I must say I was a little disappointed when I heard that the government had decided to take a step back from their hurried ultimatum that they had given the vendors who are a blight to site in the CBD of the “sunshine city”. I had all sorts of potential headlines that I thought would have been in the papers today, all the theories that would have also been swirling about. Alas the story seems to have died down. The claim is that they are going to give the vendors more time. I am not sure what the vendors need more time for.

Funnily I read in another newspaper that the places that they wanted to send the vendors to don’t even have toilets there. So it seems like it was a rushed job that the government were trying to do. So for the next few weeks we shall continue on with our city pavements being covered with everything from vegetables, clothes down to chicken intestines apparently.

Again I am not being heartless. Sure they need to do something to survive, and the real question is what has forced them to take up this form of employment in the streets, but they gotta go. I would never take someone from outside of Zimbabwe through the capital city… Not for a few years

Of Vendors and Fending for Yourself

So there has been a bit of a debate about a deadline that is on its way. To give (some of) you a backround, most of the CBD in Harare has been over taken by vendors. You can buy everything from fruit and veg to clothings, belts, screen protectors for phones, modulators for your car, to special herbs for back pain. Literally everything. These things are being sold from the sidewalks to traffic islands. A true sight that one would rather not see.

The country is currently grappling with the issue of the influx of vendors into central business district, which has brought about anarchy within the city of Harare. Concerned citizens are calling for the responsible authorities to immediately restore sanity and relocate these informal traders to Council designated points to ease the flow of human traffic within the confines of the city
The country is currently grappling with the issue of the influx of vendors into central business district, which has brought about anarchy within the city of Harare. Concerned citizens are calling for the responsible authorities to immediately restore sanity and relocate these informal traders to Council designated points to ease the flow of human traffic within the confines of the city

So here is the thing. The government reacted to the situation and have said that all the vendors should move from their illegal positions to the designated selling points. The need to get the hell out of the CBD. I totally agree with that move. It was becoming too much. It is too much. These vendors were selling the same wares that shop owners were selling them but at a fraction of the price and right outside said shops. Of course the vendors can reduce their price because they don’t have rent or rates or employees to pay. Nah this is a one man shop going on outside a shop.

Clothes of various colour and sizes... but you never know if its new
Clothes of various colour and sizes… but you never know if its new

I probably sound a little heartless because a lot of these vendors are eeking out a tiny living from their trips into town to sell their clothes (which we are never sure where they came from…. check your clothes line next time) or their veggies (which I am not sure how they are getting washed and where the water is coming from as there hasn’t been water in Harare since I can remember), but they got to go. There is a public health issue. Simply put, how many public toilets are there in the CBD? Not many. Not only that you have to PAY to use them. These guys aint about that life. So the question becomes where ARE they going? With the lack of water then the second conclusion becomes they aren’t washing their hands either.

Those are the veggies that it is not clear on their safety...
Those are the veggies that it is not clear on their safety…

I have to admit that this is a good move being made by the government to move them, but this is too late. This should not have been let to happen in the first place. There have to be control methods used to police the CBD. There must be bylaws that govern such things like vending. The lawlessness that is apparent in this country is the reason why things get reacted to, rather than anticipated.

With any hope they will be moved to where they should be, and they won’t come back. Of course seeing is believing these days in this country….