Voices from Zimbabwe

Following recent reports chronicling the decline in Zimbabwe's HIV/AIDS prevalence, the spotlight has now been turned on to the effect anti-AIDS campaigns have wrought on traditional Zimbabwean morals and values:

Zimbabwe's lead in condom use and condom sale worldwide has produced mixed reactions, with some sections of society welcoming the development, while others see it as a sign of “moral decay”.

Zimbabwe is the leading country in Africa in male condom use and sales — selling over 163 million male condoms and 3,8 million female condoms over the past five years. The 163 million male condoms sold represent the highest figure in Africa, while the 3,8 million female condoms figure sold represents the highest number of female condoms sold in the world.

A total of 900 000 female condoms were sold in 2005 alone, representing the highest per capita in any programme in the world so far.

But in an entry decrying the absence of service by the Harare City Council, Taurai at Kubatana illustrates how deeply mired the the pro-condom message can sometimes be,

There are some garbage bins in Harare that display colorful adverts for Protector Plus condoms. Part of the advert reads, “What the smart guys are wearing”: a great message but what a pity that most of the bins are overflowing with garbage that hasn’t been collected for days.

This is Zimbabwe chronicles the dressing down of South Africa's foreign affairs minister by Zimbabwean democracy activists in London last week.

The Bearded Man reports on a new contest that was launched in the UK which seeks to reward Africa's best leader sarcastically noting that, ” Zimbabwe will not be amongst the forerunners.”

Over at Harare Diary the writer is “Tearing off the clothes of resignation.”

While walking down the stairs yesterday, a woman who works on the same floor as me said “so what’s news?” And I replied, well it depends. She went on to say “when is he going?”. Of course “he” = Mugabe. All I could think of replying was, soon, I hope.

Eddie Cross, writing at Enough Zimbabwe, recounts the plight of Zimbabwean business people who have been arbitrarily arrested,

During the past week many hundreds of businessmen and women have been arrested and detained for short periods by the Police and other StateAgents. In addition literally thousands of businesses have been raided –some on a daily basis, in an effort to intimidate and force wholesalers and retailers to reduce prices and margins.

One business that I know personally has had individuals from State agencies literally camped on the premises for more than 10 days. They issue tickets and when managers have gone to the local Police Station to pay “Admission of guilt” fines they have been confronted with a wide range of arbitrary charges.

Three such charges that I have seen read: -

Docket number 3627023 “Wrongfully and unlawfully offering for sale”

Docket number 3625426 “Failure to furnish information”

Docket number 3625427 “ Failure to display prices”

In each case a fine was paid of Z$10 000.00 – much cheaper to pay the fine than go to Court with all that that involves. The authorities are trying to enforce a maximum retail mark up on a wide range of goods of 10 per cent. What they are demanding at wholesale level is anyone’s guess – perhaps 5 per cent?

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