Tuesday, October 04, 2005

Queing for food

BULAWAYO, 3 Oct 2005 (IRIN) - Three hours of standing in a queue for maize-meal looked like it was about to pay off when the line suddenly disintegrated amid despairing groans and some furious name-calling - the supermarket had just run out of Zimbabwe's staple food.Shoppers in Zimbabwe's second city, Bulawayo, are rationed to 10 kg of maize-meal per person, but finding it - and indeed most other basic essentials - on the shelves is no easy matter.To get anywhere near a bottle of cooking oil, a bag of rice, a tube of toothpaste, a carton of milk, a packet of sugar, a box of washing powder or even a bar of soap, you need a reliable rumour, an eye for a queue worth joining and, above all, patience....

Not much was available in the supermarket - even beverages were scarce because plastic bottles are in short supply - but shop attendants were busy marking up shockingly high new prices....

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