Zimbabweans life at worst in 60 years

HARARE - It does not rain for long-suffering Zimbabweans, it pours.

Following recent revelations by economists that average incomes in Zimbabwe are now at their lowest levels in 60 years, it has now emerged that more than 76 percent of the country’s adult population has to make do with less than $200 a month.

This, economists said yesterday means that poverty levels have reached “numbing levels”, amid indications that the situation will worsen in 2015 and beyond, as President Robert Mugabe and his Zanu PF government continue to demonstrate their inability to fix Zimbabwe.

According to the latest FinScope Consumer Survey that was released on Monday, and which was commissioned by FinMark and Zimstat, the country’s deteriorating economic conditions were forcing more and more cash-strapped citizens to live without basic necessities such as food and water.

FinMark project manager, Obert Maposa, said the number of Zimbabweans living on the margins was increasing at an alarming rate, with access to clean water, for example, declining in the past four years, with only 29 percent having piped running water compared with 35 percent in 2011.

“The percentage of people who have had to skip a meal due to lack of money went up to 44 percent in 2014, from 29 percent four years ago, while 37 percent have gone without treatment or medicine because of lack of money, compared with 20 percent in 2011,” he said.

As a result, commentators told the Daily News yesterday that the country’s deepening economic crisis, which was worsening the already high levels of unemployment, necessitated the need for dialogue among political parties in an effort to find lasting solutions to the myriad crises.

Economist Christopher Mugaga said with the massive company closures that had been witnessed over the past few years, “it’s only a matter of time before the economy totally collapses”.

“The informalisation of the economy is a good sign of worsening poverty levels in the country. There is no way the current government would be able to save the economy without extending a hand to the opposition,” he said.

Last year, Finance minister Patrick Chinamasa conceded that the economy was in dire straits and revealed that since 2011, more than 4 000 companies had shut down, resulting in 55 443 job losses.

Mugaga said politicians now needed to swallow their pride and invite all stakeholders to the table as part of efforts to revive the economy.

“The reason why most economies of developed countries perform well is as a result of collective efforts in government. The opposition in Zimbabwe must be included in government so that they can play their part in reviving the economy,” he said.

Regrettably, the worsening economic crisis in the country had sparked a fresh wave of skills exodus, as thousands of Zimbabweans were again fleeing the country into neighbouring countries, particularly South Africa, in search of greener pastures.

Even longer queues of desperate Zimbabweans seeking passports had resurfaced at the Registrar General’s office since the disputed July 31, 2013 elections. An official at the Registrar General’s office said yesterday that more than 600 people were applying for passports daily, compared to less than 300 people about two years ago.

“They say there is no hope in Zimbabwe, and they would rather go and look for a means of living elsewhere. This is the kind of pattern that we saw before the formation of the government of national unity in 2009,” the official told the Daily News. And with just two months into the new year, many struggling ordinary Zimbabweans said last week that they had lost all hope in the political and economic course that the country was taking.

“After enduring one of the most difficult years of my life in 2014, I was hoping this year would bring good tidings, but I guess I was wrong,” said Tabeth Moyo, 30, a qualified marketer, who has been vending on the streets of Harare for the past six years.

“Honestly, I don’t think we are going to see any economic improvements this year. I have been hesitant to leave Zimbabwe for too long but this year I am more than ready to start life across our borders,” she said ruefully.

Moyo is one of the tens of thousands of vendors fighting for survival on Harare’s congested streets, who were  recently told by Local Government minister Ignatius Chombo to move out of the central business district as they were allegedly causing congestion and the littering problem afflicting the capital city.

“The time for action to ensure that all informal traders and kombi operators adhere to the city by-laws has come. I urge all of you to move to designated vending sites as well as pick and drop points for kombis designated by the city council.

“There should be no vending on road pavements, traffic intersections, road islands, middle of the road and in front of shops and offices,” Chombo said.

However, economic commentators said that the government’s move, while potentially noble, was ill-timed considering that companies were closing en masse and the job market had collapsed since the turn of the millennium. As a result of massive company closures and a general decline in economic conditions, the country had witnessed a boom in “street entrepreneurship” — as vending was now colloquially referred to  — in major cities and towns in the country.

Informal traders in the city sell a variety of wares such as recharge cards for mobile phones, cigarettes, shoe polish, insecticides, socks, toothpicks, headphones, hair combs, sweets, fruits, vegetables and anything else that can be sold.

But without licences, the vendors are subject to frequent raids that sometimes cost them virtually their life savings.

And as the ugly factional and succession wars continue to take centre stage in the ruling Zanu PF, economic experts also say there is little chance of economic growth this year, or the next.

As a result, they say the former liberation movement should stand down from government and allow a new team to try and fix the country.

“It is now 18 months after the 31 July elections and it is clearly beyond any reasonable doubt that the State is mired in a serious structural crisis reproduced in various forms including economic collapse, acerbic succession battles, weak and debauched institutions, as well as a tired and absent leadership,” one analyst said.

Another noted that the last 35 years had seen the collapse, demise and destruction of “anything functional” in the country.

“In 2015, no amount of spin will hide the fact that the growth rate under the new failure will be below one percent. The economy is clearly in recession,” he said. A recent report by economic think-tank Inter Horizon Securities noted that the country’s economy was coming under increasing stress characterised by depressed aggregate demand, high unemployment and pervasive structural problems linked to poor funding and weak commodity prices in Zimbabwe’s key sectors such as mining and agriculture.

“The largest impediment to growth remains ingrained in policy inertia and the lack of a compromise solution to the indigenisation policy,” Inter Horizon Securities said.

The research firm said despite Zanu PF’s reluctance to allow flexibility on economic policies, the government would this year be compelled to take a more moderate approach to indigenisation and continue to take proactive measures to normalise relations with creditors and the foreign community.

Meanwhile, suburban crime, especially house burglaries, have hit the roof over the past few years as the Zimbabwean economy and the unacceptably high joblessness among the populace continues to worsen.

This recently prompted the stretched police to call on members of the public to take stronger measures to secure their property and to purchase goods such as television sets from reputable shops to enable them to follow up cases more successfully in the event of theft.

All this is happening at a time that political and economic commentators say Mugabe and Zanu PF have failed dismally to get Zimbabwe ticking and to implement a single one of the ruling party’s 2013 election promises.

In interviews with the Daily News last week, the analysts said in a normal democracy, the Zanu PF government would have long resigned to allow a new administration to try and pilot the country into less turbulent skies, given the extent of Zimbabwe’s escalating political and economic crises.

    Comments (27)

    Bereka mwana tiende

    Serg - 18 February 2015

    It is high time that the powers that be slow their pride and leave a much young and dynamic administration stir the economy from the doldrums. it is clear that the current administration will destroy anything in its path and leave this country with absolutely nothing good to talk about

    pride - 18 February 2015

    the first sentence should read swallow their pride

    pride - 18 February 2015

    It is important for one generation to sacrifice to give the future generations a legacy OF WEALTH unfortunately it does not look like IT will happen as parents/ pastors and government leaders alike are willing to mortgage their children for one days worth of temporary wealth ....GOD SAVE ZIMBABWE .....INKOSI SIKELELI AFRICA!!!!

    RAQUEL - 18 February 2015

    The problem facing Zimbabwe is that one man, Mugabe and his nephew, is formulating policies which most people are unaware of. Mugabe is implementing the old communist socialist policies but under a different name. He calls it land reform. It's similar to the failed Ujamaa by Tanzania's Julius Nyerere. Under the Marxist doctrine peasants and proletariat were/are supposed to riot or rebel against the rich bourgeoisie (property owning class) and take over what is popularly referred to as “means of production”. Farm or factory invasions are part of the Marxist doctrine. Indigenisation policy is all part of the Marxist doctrine. Words like ”empowerment”, “indigenisation” “affirmative action” are all part of the Marxist doctrine. Destroying bourgeoisie industries and the peasants or proletariat (industrial working class) taking over is all part of this abominable doctrine. I remember back in the 1960s Mugabe said he was a committed Marxist/Leninist. He strongly believes Marxism is akin to Christianity. Mugabe is determined to make Zimbabwe a total socialist communist country. The problem is not many people know what exactly he is trying to do and he does not give a damn whether the process will result in people suffering or that others like him have tried and found it to be a stupid and ruinous ideology. Senior party officials like Didymus Mutasa did/do not even know what their boss was trying to do. Mugabe does not believe in property rights. The Marxist ideology says all property belongs to the state hence Mugabe saying all farms and land belong to the state and should not belong to individuals.

    Musona - 18 February 2015

    2,500,000,000 JOBS

    2Million - 18 February 2015

    but your argument seems to justify mugabe's actions and portray him as one who wants to share resources with the underclass. that in itself is a plus. except the fact that marxism never worked anywhere in the whole world, you seem to paint a good picture of what mugabe stands for. kudos to musona.

    taurai - 18 February 2015

    The best is in control for now.Beware, those Zanu Pf Cards are the Biblical 'Mark of the Beast' Refer to your Bible Revelation 13 vs 15-17 especially verse 17. The Devil manifests itself in defferent forms, and in Zimbabwe it has since 1963 been deceiving people in the form of Zanu. Beware !!!

    Referee - 18 February 2015

    @taurai - deadhead

    Musona - 18 February 2015

    So why do you put your heading as “Zimbabweans life at worst in 60 years” if the ideology is right? Carrry on like that then. If something has failed elsewhere why try and implement it. That is the definition of insanity. The mere fact that a leader would want to see everyone being a millionaire does make the leader exceptional because it is everyone's wish – it is not realistic. It was the whites who brought the concept of prosperity to this part of the world otherwise blacks were very very abjectly poor leading hopeless lives.

    Musona - 18 February 2015

    It's good that the people of Zimbabwe experience this. You ain't seen nothing yet! You are all going back to the stone age! The biggest mistake was made in 1963 in Enos Nkala's house, others followed like the firing of Ndabaningi Sithole, the assassination of Tongogara and Chitepo. And then the loss of the 1980 elections by the best candidate (Joshua Nkomo) just because he was from a minority tribe. Throw in a few poisonous ingredients like corruption, nepotism, suppression of press freedom and Gukurahundi! Zimbabweans continued and still continue to support backwardness. I think the worst is yet to come, brace yourselves my compatriots!!

    Phaphamani - 18 February 2015

    Remember that an injustice to one is an injustice to all. Remember that if there is one Zimbabwean who faces discrimination/suppression, the whole country is not free. So let there be freedom indeed! Press freedom, freedom of speech, sexual orientation, religion, association (political or otherwise). Maybe, just maybe, one day our children might afford to dream no matter their circumstances!

    True Patriot - 18 February 2015

    I am saying you wrote well and you are scolding. pls do not see my comment in bad taste. I am saying you are dead right. mugabe desires to see all of the underclass improved. the problem is that we are fighting the hand that wants to feed us. indeed we have not taken time to understand him just like you imply the same to his lieutenants. i wonder if it is not difficult to lead people who resist leadership like most of us have become. a leader who wants the best for his subjects should rather be complimented rather rediculed like this.

    taurai - 18 February 2015

    In Romania there was a couple during the 70's and 80's and her name was Cheasescu, Nicolai and Elena , both were killed by Machine Gun Fore during Revolution, both were friends to Mugabe, when will Zimbabweans act accordingly ???

    Emperor - 18 February 2015

    Watch here Cheasescu Execution https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=DD-XNTVgDW0

    Emperor - 18 February 2015

    So let us call Smith joins Tsvangirai and we totally remove Robert, Giresi and mai Mahofa. Zvingadii?

    herber - 19 February 2015

    When are we going to learn and admit that with this leadership things will never improve? How much time and suffering do we want to be able to know that things are not right? Zimbos wake up from this deep slumber.

    Gwenaz - 19 February 2015

    Before we know it, this man has put his wife to lead the dozing Zimbos. Why? Bcoz we are allowing it. In the end its suffer continue and raving and ranting when one's destiny is in their own hands.

    Gwenaz - 19 February 2015

    Not only the life is worse but its horrible with the media like this Daily, WHICH IS MORE LIKE A PROPHET OF DOOM as opposed to telling it like it is.

    reason - 19 February 2015

    The current Government situation in Zimbabwe is like driving a vehicle whilst the handbrake is on.

    tozvidura Zvose - 19 February 2015

    When the leaders in this country and the people in authority, start being concerned for their fellow Zimbabweans of any race and creed, instead of looking only after themselves and what they can take from Zimbabwe for their own accumulation of wealth, then maybe there will be a change. Heart changes also come from the ALL KNOWING ALL SEEING GOD! $1million birthday party.......how many homeless and starving people could benefit from this expense at this critical time?? Heart issues!!

    scruffy - 20 February 2015

    They talk about Mugabe's inability to fix the economy. Mugabe is the one who broke it!!! We Zimbabweans will just never get it. We complain but really we deserve our plight. We have earnt this suffering.

    Quanda - 20 February 2015

    I am tired. I am tired of us complaining about a government we elected to power over 35 years. I am tired of hearing how we blame our Colonial past, the West, the IMF, World Bank, Weather, God, those people down there in the South, everything and everyone but ourselves. Enough! Forget our economic dire straits, we have become a nation of pathetic sheep too scared to stand up and get rid of this Mugabeship we have. We are losers in every respect.

    Gumba - 20 February 2015

    Zimbabwe is just the victim of foreign assholes who promotoe and support this crazy inside of Zimbabwe.

    Emperor - 21 February 2015

    This says it all https://m.youtube.com/watch?v=uDs_GuVCShA

    Hans Coché - 21 February 2015

    The first message should have been "swallow" pride, not "slow" it!

    R.N.Stapersma - 21 February 2015

    I agree with True Patriot. However you forgot skin colour. Why is that no longer important?. Hypocrite. What does somebody do who was born in Rhodesia. It becomes Zimbabwe and they can no longer qualify for a passport because of their skin colour?

    White Lady - 26 February 2015

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