#HowTheyRobbedUs (The Stories Shared on Social Media)
Having to send money back home to bury a sister you left behind when you left Zimbabwe. Having a bathtub you never fill with water.
Having a degree but no job.
As top officials from President Robert Mugabe’s government shrug off allegations of corruption, fed-up Zimbabweans have taken to Twitter to tweet their examples of #HowTheyRobbedUs.
Meantime Mugabe has taken off again, this time to Madagascar.
Here are five stories you may have missed from Zimbabwe in the last few days.
#HowTheyRobbedUs . Or: how a 15-letter hashtag unlocked the story of more than 15 years of pain. If you read nothing else this week, feed this hashtag into your search bar. The tweets keep on rolling in.
Behind each one is a story. Two graduates, both with degrees, both with jobs (lucky them these days) – but no hope of ever owning a house.
Young professionals who know they’ll never own a new car. Well-educated graduates who, because there are few jobs in FDI-starved Zimbabwe, are still housed and fed by the parents who struggled to educate them.
Diasporans forced out of Zimbabwe to seek opportunities (and send money back home) who only hear the gurgles of their nephews and nieces on Whatsapp. Here’s just one example from @bond_gal: “Zimbabwe has made some of us feel like failures because we have nothing to our names cause of a rubbish and corrupt economy.”
There are dashed dreams here, hopes that have been trampled upon.
That birthday party is one example : Remember THE 92nd? In Masvingo? Grace Mugabe resplendent in a black and white dress next to her hubby and oodles of birthday cakes – and that widely-circulated pic of the woman trying to scoop up some leftovers?
That party was paid for at least in part by Zimdef, the fund that came under the control of Mugabe’s ex-spin doctor Jonathan Moyo, according to the privately-owned Standard newspaper.
Taxpayer-funded Zimdef – which is supposed to be used solely to help students on attachment or doing an apprenticeship -handed over a cool $173 000 for wifi, computers and fuel to bring party youths to the bash in February.
Students have been complaining for some time that they haven’t been allocated Zimdef funds for their internships: this is why.
This is also why opposition calls for Moyo to be arrested will fall on deaf ears.
More hospital ops suspended : OK, so state media says operations at Bulawayo’s main UBH hospital are “expected to resume soon”.
But that doesn’t alter the fact that a shortage of pain-relieving pethidine led to the suspension of all non-emergency surgery from last Friday, according to the state-run Chronicle.
Ring any bells? Same thing happened at Harare Hospital last month. In that incident, even sodium bicarbonate was in short supply.
Back to a tweet from #HowTheyRobbedUs: “The president uses an equivalent to Parirenyatwa Hospital’s annual budget on one trip to Singapore for a health check up”, tweeted @philchavars65.
Mugabe’s not in Singapore now though, everyone. This week it’s Madagascar, where he’s just been elected COMESA vice-chair.
Dear ZRP just keeps growing: This is a Facebook group for all those who fear they might be getting robbed by Zimbabwe’s extremely-zealous traffic cops.
It’s a closed group (but administrators don’t seem to turn anyone away). For now it has 9 000 members and the numbers go up by the day.
Zimbabwe cops – not all of them, but some – invent new ways to swipe your money from you, also by the day.
Some drivers already take great delight in paying their fines in bond coins. Will road blocks magically melt away when bond notes are introduced?
Cruel punishment for Harare security guard: This story, reported by the Herald after it sparked a storm on social media, concerns a security guard who was allegedly forced by his boss (a well-known Harare business tycoon) to walk 9km between the suburbs of Avondale and Borrowdale carrying a large rock – because he’d apparently slacked on duty.
There are some grey areas in the reports: the man’s immediate boss told the Herald that the guard was not forced to walk (though he didn’t dispute the rock-carrying).
This is a deeply disturbing incident and one that we probably haven’t heard the last of.
Zimbabwe’s pain. It does not go away.