An abandoned country – entering Zim

Last night we camped at “Touch of Africa” in Pandamatenga, run by South African Mandy and her Austrian husband Franz for the last 16 years. The extensive farmlands around Panda are owned by 55 families, 4 from Zimbabwe, 4 from Botswana, the rest South African.

Mrs. Moyo and Apollo
As the Speedometer and Odometer were not working we went to the Panda Garage to get them fixed before entering Zim. Apollo and Mrs. Moyo greeted us. I sponsored Mrs. Moyo’s granddaughter’s Big Walk in Gaborone. Apollo called Bushlore, the hire place in South Africa to get advice on how to fix the car. He left a message on the answer phone. “Hello, this is Apollo from Botswana. Please call me back“. Somehow everything worked out.

The border was an easy crossing. We were the first people who’d gone through in two or three days. The staff were so happy to welcome us to Zimbabwe. They had holes in their clothes.

Petty corruption
Two police roadblocks meant two $20 fines on the way to Hwange. One for a missing number plate light, one for a missing ‘weight of vehicle’ number. For each we were issued receipts of “Admission of Guilt” to avoid future fines for the same offence. So civilised. When the last policeman couldn’t find anything to fine us for, he asked us for some water.

The small corruption adds up and amongst Pastor Evan Mawarire’s 5 simple demands prompting the call for peaceful strikes this week #thisflag, is an end to the roadblock bribes which are crippling for the local taxi-drivers.

Hwange Game Park
Like everything, the Hwange infrastructure was completely neglected, faded bougainvillaea gardens and empty National Park blue-green rondavels. We didn’t see much game driving through, it felt like even the animals had abandoned this country.

But camping on the Sinimatella Hill we saw tiny trees, elephants and buffalo on the huge plain below and heard lions all night.

The campsite was full of Afrikaners with their homes balanced on their trailers and vehicles. So Zimbabwe is ticking along, somehow. Perhaps their best hope of recovery post-Mugabe, if there is one, is that there has been no serious civil disorder or destruction in the last 20 years.

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