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.


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….

The day the police got a hiding

The Standards "apt" description
The Standards “apt” description

On Friday, some riot police, journalists and photographers were subjected to a beating of unparalled comparison. In one of the high density surburbs of Harare, an apostolic sect of a church was confronted by the Archbishop of that church, police and media, with the intention of closing down that sect. It had been accused of horrid abuses on women and children, and the parishioners were also told that things like newspapers, cellphones and TVs were evil and should not be used.

Some of the victims
Some of the victims

There are a few issues about this incident that I would like to touch upon. To begin with, it is sad that these women and children when being abused in the manner that they were. Apparently the sect had sanctioned that if you wife isn’t a virgin when you marry her, the man can take the younger sister (if there is one) as a second wife if she herself is pregnant.

The warzone
The warzone
Shocking behavior...
Shocking behavior…

Also the sect didn’t feel that women and children should have a right to get an education. These are things that are abhorrent and to be honest I do not agree with one bit. It is very backward. Yes Zimbabwe may be a rather backward country, but this is just too much. The last accusation laid against the sect I will not mention as it is something that just upset me when I heard about it. If enough people ask me about it i may mention it in the comments.

Sometimes its better to run for the hills
Sometimes its better to run for the hills

Anyway what started off as a routine procedure of shutting down a heinous situation that women and children when being put through turned into a fight that the riot police were not expecting. These “men of God” gave some of the police the hiding of their life. It is apparent that the sect was waiting with their breath held for the arrival of the police. It seems that they were prepped on the imminent arrival and were possibly convinced that they had to fight for their right to worship.

Of course after showing the police a little bit of How’s your father, the sect ran to ground, and have since managed to disappear of the face of Harare, with their family members none the wiser as to where exactly these men have gone. A hunt has begun, but ultimately this is a battle that no one can win.

"Men of God"....
“Men of God”….

This incident has made me think about one thing in particular and I remember saying it the day it happened. I wasn’t aware that the incident was actually going down, but we were talking about a topic loosely related to what happened. I said to some of my work colleagues that “the moment a person becomes bigger that the religion his parishioners are following, that becomes a problem.” I in fact was talking about another self styled prophet we have in this country who has been known to sell face towels to his followers and tell them that if they go and wipe a car they like they will eventually own that car.

I am not saying that I am necessarily smarter than some of these people, or not as desperate as them. It does make me worry that there are some people who can be easily manipulated into believing whatever the person at the front wants you to believe.

Ultimately the police were not going to win any fight against a religion. There are somethings that lose fights. Religion isn’t one

Its been a while

Due to work related issues, and also a heat that has been almost beyond believable, I have been awfully inactive with regards to this blog-o-mine. Strangely enough, I also haven’t had any random conversations that were good enough for me to remember and then to follow up with a ramble about. Maybe its a good thing. Maybe it means that I have run out of relevant things and all that’s left for me to do is to share with you the intimate things that grind my gears.

1. Econet Wireless

Not sure what change they have made in my world except wanting to leave them

Ok. So for those of you who don’t know Econet are a mobile provider and claim to have the largest subscriber base here at home. The reason why I say claim is because most people have had more than one line at any time. I think I have about three lying around. Anyway they recently decided to continue raping their customers when they recently decided that 30c wasn’t enough to make a phone call. Also if you have more than 30c and you make a phone call you get cut off once it gets below 30c. I mean, who the hell does that? Also does that mean whenever we buy airtime we should be buying them in multiples of 0.70c and not multiples of 1?

And (I know its poor grammar to start a sentence with the word “and”) how can you charge people 9c for a text message? That’s pure insanity. Like how did they come to the conclusion that that’s a fair price. I read an interesting article. Econet were boasting about how they had spent around $1.2 BILLION US DOLLARS on investments in Zimbabwe.

Some of the figures aren’t really proven as far as I am concerned. I am also a sceptic in my spare time

I was like WOW….. that’s a shitload…. how come I have NO idea what ANY of these investments have been? Coz that’s a lot of money to invest without telling one or 200 000 people, “Hey that was us Econet investing in that.”. In fact the article goes on to say that “more than 50 000 direct and indirect jobs had been created, more than 20 000 small businesses had been sustained by the company and in excess of 25 000 young people are now employed selling airtime and other services.” Oh ya by the way, the margins that these guys make for every dollar of airtime they sell is less than 10c per dollar they sell… its minimal. They are being shafted.

Evil Corporation 1 – Ensign 0

2. Harare Drivers

This is a typical no traffic lights no rain situation. I don’t have a no traffic lights plus rain situation pic…. yet.

It’s like there is an unwritten law in the Highway Code of Zimbabwe that says “Should there be a loss of power at a set of traffic light and/or rain, all drivers are to forget how to drive on the roads and the rules of the road are no longer relevant.”. I mean most drivers in Harare are bad, but just kill the power to a traffic light, throw in some rain and you have instant gridlock. It’s as if some drivers decide the world is coming to an end coz these traffic lights aren’t working and it’s raining. So now… it’s a fight for survival! The funny thing is that when you go to smaller towns, the drivers are so chilled, the pedestrians aren’t dodging cars, cars stop at zebra crossings, they don’t jump red lights. Hell in Harare (you would think the capitol would lead by example) its lawless on the roads. For a pedestrian trying to cross a zebra crossing, it’s their responsibility to only cross when it’s clear or they think they can make it.

Harare Drivers 1 – Ensign 1 (I have adapted and I know the ways of the crazed Harare driver)

3. Overpriced Electronics

It has been proven that in Zim, after something electronic is imported, after duties and all the relevant taxes are placed on that item. There is one more tax that is added which I have come to name the Zimbo tax. I find it hard to fathom how a second hand PS3 game at the FLEA MARKET is 50 bucks. Come on! I mean most of these games the won’t even have the inside cover of the games. This really irks me coz I have no inkling to buy electronic goods here at home. More over with the way I like THINGS, they are over priced for me at home! No man… not cool

Overpriced Electronics 1 – Ensign 0

It’s not a race if you are the only one participating – Me