33 Die On Zimbabwe Roads Over Christmas

An ashen-looking Mugabe addresses the media on December 23 during a press conference with Morgan Tsvangirai and Arthur Mutambara at Zimbabwe House, which Mugabe now uses as his office, rarely going to Munhumutapa Building, where Tsvangirai now works from, except for the Tuesday Cabinet meetings.This has been a much better Christmas than usual for Zimbabweans, at least in a decade, but deaths on the roads show a hangover from when corners were being cut n servicing cars and repairing roads

Harare, Zimbabwe, 26 December 2009

Same old story.

Police in Zimbabwe have announced that 33 people died in accidents on the country's roads since the Christmas period began in earnest on 21 December.

Zimbabwe police, who say that the hardest hit province was Manicaland, which far outstripped other provinces in fatalities, also cite fatigue, inattentiveness (driving without due care and diligence) and vehicles that were not roadworthy as the main reasons behind the high death rate.

The carnage on our roads can also perhaps be put down to the lack of a proper "Don't Drink and Drive" campaign as is usually seen in the years when road fatalities are few. I am in the advertising industry and have followed these campaigns carefully, including working on one a few years back.

What these campaigns do is put road safety top-of-mind for drivers and car owners so that, as they are reminded that this is a deadly season, they also remind themselves not to take any undue risks and attend to the conditions of their cars.

Still, it is now done and Zimbabwe will, predictably, start mouthing all sorts of platitudes about traffic safety after the fact. It will help none, of course.

The other statics I have (more are still coming in), say that the Midlands was the hardest hit province in terms of serious injuries on the roads. Mashonaland Central Province did not record a single fatality and is one of two provinces that escaped unscathed from the holiday season.

This is because most of the people staying behind in Harare and surrounds did so because travelling would have been too expensive for them. Police presence on the capital's roads and the vicinity of the Mashonaland Central Province was fairly visible and this contributed to the low death rate. Once drivers hit the open road on the way to Bulawayo (passing through the Midlands, of course (Gweru) or on the way to Mutare (Manicaland province), they tended to forget themselves.

This was the first Christmas that Zimbabweans have enjoyed in years without the spectre of hyperinflation and economy meltdown.

But, to show that the party in Zimbabwe has not yet started, most shoppers out just before Christmas Day told state media here in Harare that were almost exclusively shopping for their children's school needs. They did not want to spend all the money over the holiday before seeing to such things as uniforms and school fees, which remain high by Zimbabwean standards.

Good schools themselves are also failing to cope with enrolments at all levels. A lady I met who had just come in from South Africa says there are "many" out there who have decided to come back in the new year and they are looking for school places for their children.

I am not sure where Morgan Tsvangirai spent Christmas, but his Solution (Mugabe) is reported to have gone to him home in Zvimba with his family (no foreign trips this time around, it seems).

Although it was by far one of the best Christmases in recent memory, signs are still there that the country has merely stabilised and is not yet growing its economy.

But, as evidenced by the parents coming back home to look for school places for their children, it appears that Zimbabweans, ever optimists, are positioning themselves for what they intend to make a very good 2010, despite the politicians.

Hope you had a good one and do not have to make a resolution to visit the gym much more now as a result of overindulgence over Christmas.


  1. So many deaths, very sad any time of year; but always seems worse around the holidays.



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