Queue views


Queues, now the order of the day in the country, are likely not only to arouse political unrest but racial unrest as well if two recent letters in the local press are anything to go by.

The first reader wrote: “I went for small shopping at around 8.20 am and was annoyed to see all whites holding baskets each one of them with 2 kg of white sugar while all other people were queuing outside waiting for sugar.

“In fact I have never seen them queuing. Where do they get their basic commodities e.g. sugar, rice etc? I would like to know whether white people are not supposed to queue with others? I asked one of the till operators why whites are not treated like the rest of us but he failed to give me a proper answer. Are the queues only meant for blacks? I hope someone will care to reply to this letter.”

Somebody did indeed, and here was the reply: “Firstly we are prepared. We heard that sugar is going to be in short supply in November 1991 so we think ahead and buy ourselves a 20 kg packet in November when the product is still on the market. When the time comes we don’t have to queue.

“Secondly, having looked to the future we know that shortly pork and beef are going to be short in June, July and August. We have deep freezers and so we buy while there is a glut and deep freeze the good.

“Thirdly, it won’t be long till dairy products such as cheese, milk and butter will be unheard of in this country, so we buy ourselves lots of packets of milk powder, and deep freeze the butter and cheese.”

“Fourthly, we improvise where necessary. We do not stick to one staple diet, e.g. syrup can be used instead of sugar, lard instead of cooking oil, margarine instead of butter.

“I would also suggest that we as a whole have more to spend as we earn more. With the extra money we can afford to put some away for a rainy day. Lastly, I would like to add that the “tone” of your letter was biased and bordered on racialism.

“I haven’t seem any Indians queuing either. Remember, you reap what you sow. I don’t think many Europeans voted for ZANU-PF as their leaders , but you as the majority did, so now eat your humble pie while I eat, have sugar, butter, cooking oil and lots of sadza.”


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Charles Rukuni
The Insider is a political and business bulletin about Zimbabwe, edited by Charles Rukuni. Founded in 1990, it was a printed 12-page subscription only newsletter until 2003 when Zimbabwe's hyper-inflation made it impossible to continue printing.


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