Nation of Traders

11 01 2009

Just before Christmas I went on a bit of  a shopping spree for meat; it’s expensive here and not something I do that much of. Besides, cooking for oneself is tedious at best. Amongst the usual meats on display were chickens. Not ordinary chickens these, these were from Uruguay. Things are bad when we have to import chickens from South America. Not so long ago we produced plenty of our own (we were a net exporter of food stuffs), now we are just a nation of traders.

Uruguay chicken

Uruguay chicken

The joke used to be that the world financial crisis was not affecting us, after all, what economy did we have to be affected? It’s not that simple. ZimPlats, a majority South African owned consortium that is mining one of the world’s richest deposits of platinum some 50km out of Harare has mothballed its second phase expansion and quite a number of other mines have closed operations. The rest of the economy has collapsed without any external assistance.

I bought the chicken as much because I wanted to eat it as just to buy a South American chicken and post the evidence here. Driving back to work I went past a pickup truck selling bags of potatoes. The one on the roof advertising the product was labelled in Portuguese (I was driving and needed to watch the road). The potatoes were definitely not local quality; I am familiar with the potato scab and virus problems that we have in this country and these were massive and clean. So they were either South African potatoes destined for a Portuguese speaking market or from a Portuguese speaking country – which would exclude Mozambique and Angola (too hot). Brazil? Portugal? I guess I should have stopped to satisfy my curiosity.

I had an email today from a friend “spreading the word” that schools will remain closed for another 2 weeks (currently they are on Christmas break). It does not affect me of course as I have no progeny to educate but it does have interesting ramifications. The government teachers, well those that are left, are demanding to be paid in foreign currency or they will not return to work. Now those whose children go to goverment schools have up to now been able to pay in local currency – so are they going to have to pay in real cash? Private schools have been charging in real money for a while now. This is going to be REALLY interesting!

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