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May 24, 2007

Back in Zimbabwe, riot police need to guard the sugar

Fuel is getting to be more and more of a scarcity. Sometimes there is just none, anywhere in town. Power cuts are more frequent and longer… last week we didn’t have power for five days, then it was on for an evening, then gone again for 2 days. Sugar, cooking oil, and other essentials are harder to find. A few days ago, one supermarket had sugar, and they had to have riot police guarding it. Otherwise, you sometimes find it on the black market.

Why the shortages? With the crazy inflation of the Zim dollar, it’s quite hard to import anything, but there also seems to be some element of government control. Some say it’s a good form of slow torture to control these essential items; others point out that it’s a good way to keep up the fear and chaos of daily life, thus giving the gov’t more power to “help” its people.

As I mentioned in my previous Zim posts, the only semi-consistent “official” way to get fuel is to buy coupons from a South African company using foreign currency, and then wait in line at the filling station. And to buy coupons, you have to go to an office across town and then buy a minimum of something like 1000 liters.

Sometimes there is a normal gas station that has gas—we actually found one once! (Looooooooong line!)

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