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Tuesday, 7 September 2004

South Africa, Take A Bow

The latest news on our shipping stuff is that it is still stuck in Durban because of some OFFICE NUMPTY.

Along with our personal things are a couple of boxes of goods donated to the project. They include school uniforms kindly donated by some people in the UK for the school here. Our shipping agent has told us that he has been fined USD$1800 (yes folks, you read that right) for ‘misrepresentation’.

Apparently South African customs no longer accept labels such as “50kg of donated school uniforms”. No sirree, you must account for each and every single item in the box. Size, shape, colour, material etc. In the manner of “One boy’s school tie, blue, 60cm, rayon, slight stain on front”. For every single item. Like that’s an appropriate use of anyone’s time.

Should pose some interesting problems when we next want to ship out tractor parts. One bolt 10cm steel. Another bolt 10cm steel. And another one. Well done, RSA, you are this month’s prizewinner in the ‘How Best To Screw Up Humanitarian Aid” competition.

Although Honourable Mention must go to the fine staff at Barclays Bank in Ndola, who have been siphoning money out of the project account and denying all knowledge of it. Luckily this has been rectified. I was threatening to go to the bank myself, and I can make bank tellers cry. And call centre staff. But that’s another story. Which involves wine. Nice wine. Not like the gnat’s piss I inadvertently bought in Ndola at the weekend.