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A Plot Twist

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Mind in lockdown, senses in quarantine, words at a distance, out of reach.

This column, barely six months old has already gone several mutations. In the beginning its focus was writing: writing tips, the writing craft, an odd book review– but that became a little tedious.

A few pieces of creative non-fiction, flash fiction followed. Then came a few weeks of a novella in flash: short stories (very short stories) set in a fictional village that could be read in a single sitting that carried on the next week. Welcome to Tsalanang in 2020 introduced the fictional village of Tsalanang.

It led in a few characters—the kind of people one encounters in everyday life. People going about the business of living. There were characters such as old man RreMoeng, the octogenarian who was finally eating life in his home village following his retirement, the owner of A&A General Dealer and Takeaway and the firefire pastor.

Then the idea came to introduce a little intrigue, so the column went the route of a whodunit. There was a murder of a young man—unsolved. Thuso met his demise in a way that was not clearly explained.

The ending left the mystery unresolved. Not all murders are solved, after all. It seemed that Thuso’s killer got away with a dastardly deed. There was mention of a certain farmer called Snyman. Pictures of him in a compromising position were found, but nothing came of that. It was, in the language of writing, a red herring.

He appeared to be a villain in the making –a totally unsavoury character. He was surely the killer…. But, that would have been too predictable, so the story ended. Unsolved. An unsatisfied reader demanded to know who killed Thuso. Not every ending has to be neat and tidy, after all.

And then there was Thuso’s expectant girlfriend, or maybe she wasn’t really a girlfriend? Thuso’s sexual orientation came in to question—briefly. Whatever the case, her family came to tell Thuso’s mother of the imminent birth of a baby. This was comforting news to Mma Thuso. She would have a grandchild to remind her of her beloved son. *

It was on or around this time that the sceptre of the disease called Corona was whispered. Still a whisper, flying in from a place no one in Tsalanang had ever heard of: Wuhan, China. Far away. Far, far away.

The plan for one of the residents of Tsalanang to open a store that sold goods sourced from China was put on hold. Maybe this wasn’t a good time for his kind of storyline…

The whisper became a reality.

Soon, the proprietor of A&A General Dealer and Takeaway complained loudly to anyone who cared to listen about how disastrous a lockdown would be on his business.

And after much complaining, he somehow managed to get his shop listed as one that supplied essentials.

He was pleased when his stock of soap ran out. He quickly restarted his little factory that once produced household disinfectant.

In no time he was supplying the nearest town with hand sanitiser. He got away with adding a little stone to the usual price. It was, he justified this heartlessness, a case of supply and demand. He was thrilled when his nine-year old stock of whips was bought.

The owner of the local security company marched into the shop one evening, just before closing and bought the 12 that he had on the shelves, as well as the 100 he had in the storeroom.

They had been ordered them in 2011 when it seemed like the strike that was going on in the capital city would threaten the peace and tranquility of Tsalanang village.

So, the story of the uncle who spent most of his days at One More Bar will have to wait. All bars are closed. He is home, struggling with a condition that some call dioris. Not sure what its English equivalent it.

The month end gatherings of the characters, Rre Moeng and friends, who would usually be sat on the stoep of A&As General Dealer and TakeAway are on hold. On the door handle of the store hangs a sign that reads CLOSED until further notice.

The only people who are safe are Thuso’s newborn and his mother. They are being kept indoors by the new grandmother who brooks no nonsense.

Even MmaThuso has not been allowed to see her new grandson. They are under lockdown—the traditional one that has kept newborns safe since time immemorial.

And the rest of Tsalanang patiently waits out the 28 day lockdown. Braces. Prays—that it will only be 28 days.

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Reign of terror

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Reign of terror

Jaws dropped over the weekend as it emerged that an opposition Member of Parliament and two activists who had been reported missing were found badly beaten and tortured.

The three women went missing last Wednesday while in police custody. They had been arrested in Harare for partaking in what the police said was an illegal demonstration.

They were found a few kilometers outside Harare where they had been dumped after allegedly being subjected to two days of horrendous treatment.

It seems their rights were violated in the most despicable ways as they were sexually assaulted and reportedly made to drink each others urine and to eat their faeces.

According to doctors treating the trio, as of Tuesday they were still too traumatized to fully speak about their ordeal and understandable so judging from what they have apparently gone through.

It’s extremely unfortunate that our state security organs seem to believe in violence, terror, torture and abductions rather than dialogue or simply arresting people without having to beat or torture them.

Over the last couple of years, Zimbabwe has made international news for all the wrong reasons and violation of human rights.

In 2018, as election results were still being announced, the army was unleashed to deal with protesters. Six people were killed and dozens were seriously injured.

In January 2019, 17 people were killed following protests over fuel price hikes.

One could go on and on to list all the evil deeds of our regime, which excels at instilling fear in masses instead of dealing with matters at hand.

Many families in Zimbabwe are struggling to put food on the table and when they speak out, they are brutally dealt with.

As for the economy, it remains in free fall as the local currency continues to depreciate against major currencies. This was further worsened by the introduction of a new 10 Bond note on Tuesday. History has taught us that new notes in Zimbabwe mean higher inflation and we just have to brace ourselves for the worst as the new 20 Bond note is also set to be introduced next month.

If there is one thing our government never grasped from the past it is that printing new money does not solve our economic problems but instead makes the situation worse.

At the rate at which things are going, we will soon be poor millionaires again!

With regards to Covid-19, as of Tuesday, the country had 46 confirmed cases, including 18 recoveries and four deaths.

Meanwhile, President Mnangangwa extended the country’s lockdown indefinitely while the situation will be assessed at two weeks interval. This means that wearing a mask in public remains mandatory.

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Poverty stricken & striking cops

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Poverty stricken & striking cops

It is almost two months since the country went into Covid-19 enforced lockdown, yet our government is still to give handouts to the vulnerable as they promised.

This is amid reports that state coffers are literally empty.

On March 30, when the country began the lockdown, the government announced it would fork out US$4 (P40) to the poor every month to cushion them against the effects of the lockdown.

Though little, people at least expected to get the money. To date, not a single penny has been paid out!

On Tuesday, Social Welfare Minister, Prof Paul Mavima admitted no pay out had been made, also revealing that the money has since been increased to US$6 (P60) due to inflation.

At the current black market rate, US$6 is ZWL$246 and only enough to buy eight loaves of bread – still it’s certainly better than nothing!

As for when it would be paid out, the Minister could just not commit.

So the vulnerable should just continue waiting and for all we know, they could wait for the rest of their lives.

In other news, our police officers have been trending again, not for any good deed but as always, their brutality!

They sjamboked, kicked and punched two Bulawayo women in their 30s for violating lockdown rules. The duo had reportedly gone to buy food at their local store when they met the officers who descended heavily on them.

Pictures of the ladies’ badly battered and bruised bodies went viral on social media, sparking an outcry of the cruelty of the cops and a call for justice for the victims.

Police spokesperson has said the six accused cops will face internal disciplinary measures, which I am sure basically means they will be transferred to other stations far from Bulawayo while the victims will be expected to forgive and forget.

Quite unfair but sadly not surprising.

I know first-hand how excited our police officers can be as I almost became their victim a few weeks ago.

Had it not been for my press card, I am sure I would have gotten a few slaps or spent a night in the cells for simply taking a picture of them blocking a vehicle with firewood.

Our officers really need to be schooled in the art of dealing with people, especially the harmless and innocent. There surely is no need to brutalise people who pose no danger to anyone!

Meanwhile, as of Tuesday, Zimbabwe had 37 Covid-19 cases including 12 recoveries and four deaths.

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