Anyone who has lived in Zimbabwe (or Rhodesia) will have knowledge at least of the Gremlin Drive-In Restaurant on the Enterprise Road in Salisbury/Harare – just opposite the Remand Prison.
For many years, whilst living in Salisbury/Harare, I used to swing by there on my way home from whatever we were doing on a Friday or Saturday evening – and we could entertain ourselves with the music piped through the speakers, eat some really good quality food – and sometimes even watch the motorcycle drag racing that used to carry on illegally on the road outside.
But what I was amazed with – especially today – is what we used to pay for food then.
Bear in mind, when you read this, that the Rhodesian dollar was very close in value to the pound Stirling.
In 1977, for a “Juicy Steak, Chips, Peas and Tomatoes” was just $0.75!
Another example is “Peri Peri Chicken” in a basket was just $1.00!
In direct comparison, there was a bill for lunch at Victoria Falls Hotel in March last year fetched a total of ZW$ 1 243 255 000.00 – that is one billion two hundred and forty three million two hundred and fifty five thousand (I think!).
And that was for 3 Castles (beers), 1 mineral water and 1 dinner!
And then there is a blank line under the total for the people to fill in the “Gratuity” (fancy talk for a tip!)… In their dreams!
But let’s look at a comparison that is a little more contemporary.
Before I left Zimbabwe, I worked as the Sales manager of an independent Toyota dealership in Harare. We used to sell a Toyota Hilux 2.4D for $127 000 – and I’m talking about maybe eleven years ago.
I have seen a photograph of a lunch bill being paid in Zimbabwe and I don’t know whether each ‘brick’ of money is a million or a billion – but either way, there are twelve bricks being carried to pay for the meal!
I might have written about this before, but my first wage ever was in early 1981 when I first joined the ZRP and it was for a few cents shy of ZW$100 – and I lived like a king!
My last wage in Zimbabwe (about October 1998) was about ZW$12 thousand and then there were also commissions payable. And without those commissions and the fact that my wife worked as well, we would have struggled to make ends meet.
And it wasn’t that we lived beyond our means – the cost of living was catching up at quite a pace…
I have no idea of the cost of living in America, but I would assume that it is about the same as it costs here in the United Kingdom.
And civil servants in Zimbabwe are supposed to make do with just US$100 per month? (Okay – this week that has been increased to about US$155 – twice nothing is still nothing!)
Mugabe and his stalwarts have been helping themselves for years – not just from the banks and State coffers, but to the resources of the country – resources that belong to the people, not to be pilfered by self-opinionated politicians…
Mugabe and company are also supposed to be living on this meagre income – but – and trust me, this is a big but – he has quite a bit of money stockpiled for a rainy day.
Oy! Mugabe! It’s raining!
Robb WJ Ellis
The Bearded Man