Waiting in long lines to withdraw small amounts of cash from banks has become a way of life for Zimbabweans, but residents of Gokwe,
Midlands province, say they also face harassment by soldiers who have beaten and harassed those in line for real or imagined offenses.
Sources in Gokwe said soldiers stationed at the local Grain
Marketing Board depot under the so-called Operation Maguta ("Food Security") collective farming program have beaten people and inflicted humiliating punishments after accusing people of jumping the bank queue.
The sources said several
teachers who sought to withdraw their salaries on Wednesday were beaten or
ejected from the line by the soldiers. They said that on Monday a pregnant
woman was forced to crawl for about 50 meters after being accused of jumping
the queue.A teacher speaking on condition he not be identified for told reporter Jonga Kandemiiri of VOA's Studio 7 for Zimbabwe that the volatile political
situation allows the soldiers take the law into their own hands because
they know that even the police cannot challenge them.
Though the town of Gokwe has six banks, the inability of the Reserve Bank of Zimbabwe to satisfy consumer and business demand for bank notes has forced people to queue for hours
to withdraw the daily maximum allowance. That was recently raised to Z$50,000, which would only purchase three loaves of bread with hyperinflation daily eroding purchasing power.
More reports from VOA's Studio 7 for Zimbabwe...