THE SUPERMARKET STAGGER          - 4/10/2007      <--Prev : Next-->


Killing time in Zimbabwe is certainly not a problem these days. When one has a spare moment or two, it necessitates a frantic dash around the closest supermarket for a spot of "Hunting and Gathering"

Now the the use of the word "dash" might not be quite correct as it is not easy to "dash" around at all with most of the extraordinary eclectic shopping carts that festoon our "supermarkets" these days.

With the exception of the smart crimson plastic carts at Ascot Spar and the double dekker ones at Solomons, the shopping carts in most Bulawayo supermarkets have to be seen to be believed.

If you get one with a complete handle you consider yourself lucky, four wheels are an extra bonus, and rubberised wheels are a rarity !! And so one does not "dash" one probably has a frantic "clunkety clunk" around a store in search of commodities.

The hygiene side of these carts too is extremely suspect and it is advisable to carry one's own antiseptic wet wipes with one !!

I generally get one of the trollys that has to be pulled rather than pushed and it has such a rickety sideways gait, that a thirty minute truculent trolly trundle is worth an hour in the gym !

There is not much use in taking a shopping list, its a kind of "take what you can find" scenario.

And take your BIG cheque book, because in spite of the fact that this "price freeze" was supposed to reduce the prices, every single item in the shops is twice as expensive as it was when the whole debacle started. Everything costs a million dollars or close to it ....

Sadly a shopping experience in Zimbabwe leaves a lot to be desired from what we remember before this madness started. The shop workers are disillusioned as there is little on the shelves. They are tired as there are few buses because of the freeze on taxi and bus prices.

They have probably had to walk to work for at least a couple of hours and they journey home will be as gruelling, after a days work.

Standards have not dropped, they are just not there any more. In several of the supermarkets, shoppers have to climb over trash left on the floor, manoeuvre past empty boxes, cabbage leaves and dirt.

Counters are not clean. We do not have the fancy disinfectant wipes that first world shops have. Counter assistants might make a desultory pass over the shopping counter with a dirty rag if one is lucky.

Meat, if one can get it which is very very seldom, is not packed hygienically, and drops of blood mingle with the tomatoes and onions as they are thrown into the same cart for the journey to the car.

Packets are a thing of the past, shop keepers charge high prices for packets because they in turn paid high prices for them ..... This has been excellent for the environment, but the legacy has been a serious outbreak of gastrointestinal ailments which is concerning the medical profession.