Saturday, May 24, 2008

Times are Rough All Over


What's going on in Joburg and thereabouts these days is so regrettably unfortunate. I imagine the scions of apartheid smirking in smug satisfaction and nostalgia, seeing familiar, vicious and barbaric attacks on Blacks on televsion again, only this time both perpetrator and victim are Black. Black South Africans walking down the street, demanding that other black Africans show proof of South African citizenship, is shockingly reminiscent of the passbook laws of the apartheid regime, as was the burning alive in a blanket of one presumed immigrant, who didn't produce the life saving identification.

The old barons of apartheid living in self-exile in Pretoria and remote, homogeneous locales are not the bad guy perpetrators of the current violence though. Chief among current culprits is Robert Mugabe, the black African president of Zimbabwe who has managed during his 38 year tenure, to starve the entire citizenry and demolish the economy of a once thriving nation. I knew things were bad, but I was stunned at the admission gate of Victoria Falls National Park in 2003, to learn that this Zimbabwe National park, i.e., government-owned, did not accept Zimbabwean currency for admission! They accepted U.S. Dollars- (bet they wouldn't take any now) and South African Rand. The inflation rate five years ago rendered the currency barely worth the paper it was printed on; now a loaf of bread cost what 12 new cars did a decade ago. If there were jobs in Zimbabwe (and the inflation rate wasn't 1 million%, Zimbabweans wouldn't be in South Africa competing for scarce jobs against South Africans and other African immigrants and refugees from the Second Congo War who already in South Africa. Some attribute the scarcity of South African jobs and other economic maladies to the failings of the post-apartheid government.
If there's any hope for the rebirth of Zimbabwe, it lies in the end of Mugabe's presidency. Despite recent glimmers of compassion emanating from the Mugabe government, and the upcoming second election, there will likely be more terror in Zimbabwe, now that the much dreaded has happened: at least some of the 77 tons of weapons from China have arrived in Harare.
(Arms from China may soon be available at cut rates to all takers given the need for money to assess and address earthquake damage, bury the dead and provide for the burgeoning populaton of homeless and unemployed survivors.

In the States we're shuddering from the effect of rising gas and food prices, job layoffs and devalued currency. Some forward-thinkers are hoarding food, others growing their own. I recommend jumping on the latter bandwagon now. I doubt our Canada and Mexico are or will be capable of absorbing and sustaining immigrants fleeing an imploding American economy any better than South Africa has been able to absorb its immigrant neighbors.

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