South Africa A in Zimbabwe 2007 August 16, 2007

South Africa A experience food shortages

The South Africa cricketers currently on an A-team tour in Zimbabwe's second largest city, Bulawayo, experienced the effects of the government's controversial decision to reduce prices first-hand earlier this week.

According to reliable sources, the South African team returning from a short visit to the World Heritage Site, the Matopos National Park which is situated near Bulawayo, were turned away in the evening from local restaurants which had run out of ingredients.

The players then opted for the not-so-healthy option of takeaways from various South African-owned fast-food franchises, but those had also run out of supplies. The only place still serving food was a pizza outlet, which had a long and winding queue. Most of the players were unprepared to wait, leaving them no option but to return to the hotel. Only Andre Nel and Andrew Hall were hungry enough to join the queue, and they were later picked up by the team bus.

"We have been to Nando's," Boeta Dippenaar, the captain, told a South African paper. "All we could order was rice and bread. There is no meat here. The pizza places serve only vegetarian dishes."

It is also reported that the team were left short on the final day of the match in Harare at the weekend, with shortages meaning that there was no "beer, bread or burgers" at the ground according to a local source. "Beer has become a scarce commodity here due to government's prize blitz which means manufactures are forced to sell at low prices," he said. "They have scaled down production. Most products are out of reach."

The International Herald Tribune reported that a restaurant at the ground withdrew its menu on Saturday, the third day of the match, having just chicken and potatoes on offer, while nearby chicken and pizza takeouts ran out of food and shut down early.

There are also unconfirmed reports that the India A side, who were here last month, were unhappy with some of the conditions they were expected to deal with, with gripes about accommodation and food to the fore.

Steven Price is a freelance journalist based in Harare