April 14, 2009

The tools didn’t turn up and Robert payed the guys, but he deducted 10,000 from each of their wages (that’s half a day’s pay for most of them). He calculated the cost of the tools and divided the cost between them. They weren’t too happy about that. But if you do nothing, it will happen again. At least now they know there are consequences.

The Easter holidays have passed and we hardly noticed except for the Easter Sunday service we went to. There is very little commercialization of Easter here – I didn’t even see chocolate Easter bunnies in the supermarket this year. Many businesses are closed from Good Friday to Easter Monday, but for most life goes on as usual.

Zambia's future, her children. (Photo by Marianne Stamm)

Zambia's future, her children. (Photo by Marianne Stamm)

We spent Good Friday in meetings – first with Bukuumo Cooperative, since that’s when most of its members were free. We had a good meeting – with the biggest attendance since we arrived in early February. One of the main items was the issue of squatters on the ZamTan Farm.

The farm is directly adjacent to a poor suburb which is sprawling over its boundaries. There hasn’t been much movement on the farm over the last year, after the chicken layer project was scrapped. It seems some people have seen that as a license to move in and use the land themselves.

When Robert, Ruth Myanza and I went there last week to stake out a plot to grow vegetables this coming season, we found vegetables already growing where we had planned. And they weren’t ours. Shanty houses stood besides the gardens. It seems there are at least five buildings on the land now, with grass slashed for another one or two.

So we have a problem. It can be a long weary process to get these people to move, and they can cause a lot of trouble. This morning three of us women from Bukuumo Cooperative went to city council office to try to get an appointment to see the mayor. I tell you! (a favourite Zambian exclamation…)

I believe there is a huge amount of time, energy and money wasted in Zambia on waiting around. Waiting for people to meet together, waiting for the mayor’s secretary to come to work, then waiting for her to call us… Why can’t we just phone the office like in Canada?

No, three women have to get a taxi (two don’t have their own vehicles), and spend half their morning trying to get an appointment.  We failed to get it, as we have to follow some other procedure first – one that will waste more time waiting.

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