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26th January 2012

Greetings from Rusape! A leisurely weekend was followed by a busy one. Three long distance, about 60km each way, outstations on Friday, Saturday and Sunday took a lot of energy. There was a very violent thunder and lightning storm on the night of Wed. 19th. It was accompanied by a downpour, which resulted in a rainfall of between 65 and 75mm, almost three inches. Naturally, the dirt roads were affected, more pot holes and gullies. However, people were relieved that good rains had come. Some are now only planting the maize, while others have it ready for harvesting. We get some fresh maize cobs at the outstations as well as mangos. I like both.

While on the way to Chikovore on Friday, I got a message that one of the outstation masses was cancelled due to heavy rain, where Mass is celebrated underneath a tree. I proceeded to the first station where only four adults were present. Yet they sang the Lord Have Mercy, the Gloria and some hymns around communion time. I was back on the same main road on Saturday for Clare Farm. The small thatched church was full, eleven men, eight women and the rest were children. A good celebration.

I was delighted to see Munster put on the style in the Heineken Cup Rugby game on Saturday evening or night. Along with their physical game they showed a lot of skill and are now top of the group with a home semi final at Easter. It was good seeing Padraig Harrington making a comeback at Fancourt in the Southern Cape. A poor finish on the 17th and 18th holes on Friday and Saturday cost him dearly. I did not see how he finished on Sunday.

St Simon’s and Padua had full churches on Sunday with energetic participation. The dirt road to Padua, 13km, is in very poor condition. The round trip of 106km is demanding.

Mutare had a lot of rain last week. Humidity was very high on Monday. The only bright spot in my golf game was a two club at the 11th par 3.

Stanley, the carpenter, came from Rusape to Mutare early on Tuesday morning. We went to the hardware stores to buy materials for the porches. It was both satisfying and frustrating. Some of the shops had given quotations the previous week for materials they did not have in stock. It meant retracing our steps on a number of occasions. After about three hours we had got most of the materials we needed. We bought Saligna doors(made from gum trees-eucalpytus), which should last a long time, if they are kept varnished. Maintenance is low on the list of African priorities.

The A Level results were published last week. Kriste Mambo and St. Joseph’s High School performed very well. Sadly, the Primary School teachers are on strike this week with the resulting disruption of the school programme. Teachers salaries are very low about $350.00 a month. In some secondary schools, parents augment the teacher’s salaries by voluntary contributions. It leads to a two tier system and basic inequality in the system.

I hope all is going well for the farmers with the lambing season.

Love and best wishes.

NB The following from a recent Irish Times is a good summary of what happened in Ireland from 2001 to 2011. It is the most honest presentation of Ireland’s situation that I have read in print:

It is worth remembering that the IMF-EU-ECB “intervention” in Ireland arises because Ireland went broke.

When a negative gap of more than €20 billion between State income and expenditure emerged in 2009, the public sector pay bill became an unavoidable target, given that it comprised a substantial component of State expenditure. Public servants had seen their annual incomes increase generously from 2001. Various rounds of benchmarking had resulted in pay awards of about 9 per cent, costing an additional €1.2 billion a year. The reforms on which benchmarking was supposedly contingent never materialised or were rejected by public servants. Instead of numbers reducing by 5,000, they increased by 38,000 in the five years after 2001.

Like the Normans, they were invited here, although they come bearing cash rather than weapons and they come to dig us out of a hole of our own making and not to drive us off to Connacht.

The impact of the current austerity on Irish society flows from choices made in Ireland by Irish governments. It was the democratically elected government of Ireland from 2002-2007 and the democratically re-elected government of Ireland from 2007 to 2011 that implemented the popularly endorsed policies which got us into this mess, not the ECB or the IMF or the European Commission.