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Dollar mania in the ‘hood

TORN APART with BOYD PHIRI
YOU are probably sick of listening to people in the hood rave about anything – from clogged pit latrines to abundance of water.
Yes, people in the hood can rant about everything that has gone wrong, even things that have gone right.
I bet it is the same babble gene that makes some of them, especially women, stand on an ant-hill at night and shower the entire neighbourhood with tirades.
You would hear one screaming: “Mwachilamo ukulowa abana babene. Mwendoshi mwe,” meaning, “How dare you bewitch other people’s children. You old witches.”
In most cases such tantrums are directed at no particular individuals – the purpose is to intimidate the hood and make one’s presence known.
I hate to accuse people in down-trodden areas of making everyone feel blue about life, but truth be told, some can win a Nobel Prize for complaining too much, that is if ranting can be considered for the prize.
I am sure you have heard some people complaining about the new roads Government has built – but despite the changed face of most areas, including the capital city, complaints still abound.
Of course, it is normal to feel blue about something but in down-trodden areas this has to be put in proper context.
You would find a group of women at a communal tap praising Government over the provision of water, but at the same time complaining about its abundance.
“Tuletasha ubuteko nabutupelako amenshi. Nomba ubwafya tukwete amenshi nayafulisha,” meaning “We commend Government for giving us water, but the problem we have is that there is plenty of water.”
This is the kind of rage DNA you get in the hood, especially if you are not used to hearing people complaining about this and that.
In the business sector, people have found an excuse – a lame one – to blame all the increase in prices, to the US dollar.
The dollar has grown so much in stature that the Kwacha has been chasing or rather trailing at snail’s pace.
While it is acceptable to attribute the rise in some costs to the falling Kwacha, I find it difficult to reason with an aunt who increases the price of munkoyo opaque drink and attributes the increment to the dollar.
“Dollar nainina,” meaning “The dollar has gone up,” she would say in defence of her increase in the price of the local beverage.
I am afraid, if business houses continue exploiting people under the pretext of the Kwacha losing value against the dollar, everyone would want to attribute everything to the dollar.
What if street beggars start demanding K2s instead of K1s because of the bullish dollar? What if people manning fee-paying toilets start charging K5 instead of K2 for one to use the restroom because of the dollar?
Of course, it would be weird for fee-paying toilets to increase the prices. What has the dollar got to do with one emptying his bowels in a public toilet?
As things go, my fear is that call girls would also increase their prices under the pretext of the falling value of the Kwacha against the dollar?
“Ba brother dollar nainina,” a sex worker would remind a client about the Kwacha blues as if they need imported raw materials to have a roll in the hay with a client.
Or indeed why a certain sister in one of the small Christian communities whom I have over the years supported in her tobwa business decided to increase the price when she does not even use sugar.
A farmer in Mumbwa who has been cultivating vegetables for over two decades using composite manure has also increased his wholesale and retail prices for his vegetables citing the dollar as the reason for the increase.
What about the man who catches fish for free in Lake Kariba and a poacher who hunts illegally blaming the falling Kwacha for their greed to increase their prices.
All the stockfeed is manufactured locally by our vigayo – local milling plants and, yet those who sell chickens have upped their fowl pricing because of the dollar – how?
I am pleasantly shocked that Zesco has not blamed its load shedding on the dollar, so has the Lusaka Water and Sewarage Company not blamed the dollar for the erratic water supply in some townships.
If it was not for a liberalised economy, I was going to ask Government to begin regulating prices in the country before dollar-crazy business people start charging us – even for the air we breathe.
And where is the Bank of Zambia in all this?
The central bank directed local businesses not to charge in dollars but while they are not quoting their goods and services in the greenbuck per se, all prices are now dollar equivalent.
I hope the dollar mania among local business people would not go to extremes and make everyone feel blue.
bjboydphiri@yahoo.com


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