Zimbabwe Absurdity

12 09 2010

“Due to circumstances beyond our control, the Freshlyground concert will no longer be taking place in Harare on the 3rd of October. We sincerely regret any inconvenience caused but hope for your continued support in our future events.”

So goes the comment on my Facebook page announcing the cancellation of the South African pop group’s local gig. I do wonder if it has anything to do with a video they produced recently for a song entitled “Chicken for Change” on a South African “Spitting Image” type satire show that featured the “impending departure” of Comrade Robert.

Yesterday at the airport we encountered another type of Zimbabwe absurdity that had Lucy spitting mad.  We’d just dropped her boyfriend off on a flight back to the UK and arrived back at the Land Cruiser to find that it had been wheel clamped for incorrect parking. There was a grubby piece of paper of a badly photocopied notice explaining that for $20 we could get it unlocked but if we removed the clamp it would get us a $100 fine. A parking attendant was found (not in any sort of uniform) and Lucy asked to see his identification which he produced. When she attempted to get the phone number off the back he got distinctly unco-operative and asked if we wanted to report a complaint. No, we replied, we just want to verify who you are.  He snatched the card away before she could copy the number and called some passing police. They were uninterested. Lucy duly went off to see about paying the fine and after a long sob story and bonding with the person manning the exit gate we were let off. The parking attendant came back all smiles and removed the clamp, which wasn’t even locked onto the wheel.

Two evening previously I’d picked up Lucy and Will, her boyfriend, from a local hotel where they’d been dropped off by the bus from Bulawayo. They were a good 2 hours late. It transpired that the bus company had refused to give a certain senior policeman a free ticket to Victoria Falls so he’d taken umbrage and set up roadblocks around Bulawayo. The bus company had hired some smaller mini-buses instead of using their large and very ostentatious coach but still they were stopped. The senior policeman picked on one of the bus company staff and had her arrested on a spurious charge and did likewise for a professional hunter who was moving back to Harare with his weapons. Perhaps not so much absurd as churlish.

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