Here is what is depressing. Armed with a degree certificate tucked safely under my fresh new adult zeal I woke up to the ‘real world’ twelve years ago. When I started working, the ‘bearer cheque’ was about to be introduced. To put it simply, it was a piece of paper, bill sized, with the Reserve Bank of Zimbabwe watermark, and increased zeros in denomination and utterly worthless anywhere and for anything that we had to use as money. The medical aid schemes, life insurance policies and savings accounts all used the Reserve Bank rate that served their ends. While I had to buy foreign currency off the streets; outside the Eastgate shopping mall to be precise – from women dressed in fancy white garb top to toe, the Reserve Bank held their loud view of what the official exchange rate was.
I woke up one morning having lost all the local currency in my bank account, as my account was dissolved by my bank, and I was instructed to open a new foreign currency account through which I would receive my salary. Again, as instructed by the government.
What I worked so hard for came to nought overnight. Many people who had been investing for their retirement lost so much, as the investment companies got away with converting the bottom line using the Reserve Bank gazetted rate. The Reserve Bank rate had nothing to do with reality, but served to serve a self-serving leadership. Through a number of years, it became increasingly difficult to be a Zimbabwean in Zimbabwe and out of Zimbabwe. Basic food shortages or available on car rooftops at exorbitant US dollar cash prices, no electricity, no water, the cumulative effects on one’s emotional psyche are just impossible to articulate.
There was a brief respite, in 2013. There was a moment of stability. Hope. I almost started breathing and relaxing my shoulders. I actually thought that as I was hurtling towards my thirties, I could finally begin to invest in my future, as a career woman with dreams and hopes and a helluva to-do list to get through. I decided that there must come a time when the money lost, nay, the money that I earned and was robbed by the Reserve Bank and government would somehow be returned to me I was so sure that the real bank would recover the clients’ losses and that the investment funds would do the same too.
Crossed over to the thirties’ side. And the Reserve Bank is yet again introducing more pieces of paper, shaped like bills, to be traded at certain percentages to create incentive, while being equal to the US dollar. Banks have begun to issue new terms of service to clients. New terms of service on foreign currency accounts.
What I keep failing to understand is why is it that the Reserve Bank of Zimbabwe, the government of Zimbabwe, feel entitled to me? Where is the clause on my birth certificate or conditions of my nationality that render me their workhorse who must hand over all I am and all I do to them? Kneel and extend my sweat, hopes, future in a calabash in offering to the government of Zimbabwe? This is the question that I am looking for an answer to.
I have only ever guessed at what a pimp and his or her whores’ relationship must be. I do not need to look further. I live it. Zanu PF, associates of Zanu PF, institutions of Zanu PF, friends of Zanu PF, moral code of Zanu PF are my pimp. I am merely the whore that must turn over and accept what blows are dealt in squalor, silence and gratitude.
Optimism at this point is falsehood; practicality overrides. Our futures are systematically thwarted, shredded, by a league of power obsessed, self-important, failures at compassion and humanity leaders, at every turn, and all because we are here in Zimbabwe. That is what is depressing me. And I am an average woman in Zimbabwe.
Source: Bridgette Malenga