Santa Claus evades Zim

HARARE - Christmas cheer seems to have bypassed Zimbabwe this year with most families finding themselves with empty pockets and barely enough to survive another day let alone think of organising a festive party.

In a year where an unprecedented number of companies collapsed and thousands of jobs were lost through the widely-debated July Supreme Court ruling, it is no surprise that the general standard and quality of living has sharply deteriorated.

The country’s city authorities have tried to lighten the mood with Christmas lights in parks, but the majority of Zimbabweans who are surviving on less than $2 a day are hardly stopping to notice.

A snap survey by the Daily News yesterday revealed that it is business as usual on the streets of the country’s cities as most vendors go about their business while supermarkets jostle for the few customers with buying power.

A few department stores and offices have set up Christmas trees.

For the children who believe in Santa Claus, they have been treated by their appearances at shopping malls.

However, Zimbabwe’s Santa spotted by this paper has not been giving away presents, rather he has only been charging for photos to the intrigued children who care for a picture.

With the country’s economy in the doldrums and showing no prospects of recovering any time soon the Christmas spirit — expressed through gift donations and carols — has been conspicuously absent this festive season.

And what has made this festive season bleaker is the fact that civil servants, who form the bulk of the country’s employed few, are yet to get the promised 13th cheque.

Observers who spoke to the Daily News implored government to come out in the open and “desist from riding on the emotions of desperate civil servants,” by lying to them.

“Government should just tell the nation the truth, after all this would not be the first time they have failed to fulfil their promises,” said social analyst Promise Mkwananzi.

Labour minister Prisca Mupfumira has insisted that civil servants would get their bonuses this year but has failed to specify dates with many government workers likely to spend Christmas broke as they will only get their salaries after the 26th.

According to the government’s pay schedule for this month, teachers and nurses face a bleak Christmas as they are only going to receive their salaries after the festive season.

The government has for a long time now been struggling to pay salaries which gobble up around 82 percent of its total budget to its workers.

MDC leader Morgan Tsvangirai has not let up on his long time rival accusing President Robert Mugabe’s miss rule of being the Grinch that stole Christmas.

Neutrals say it has been a cocktail of reasons that include recurrent droughts and a series of poor harvests that have all contributed to increasing levels of vulnerability and acute food insecurity in the country.

A recent authoritative survey revealed that in some areas of the country as many as 96 percent of villagers live on less than a dollar a day.

According to the Zimbabwe Poverty Atlas for 2015 (Atlas) — a research carried out by Zimstat, the World Bank and the United Nations Children’s Fund (Unicef) — areas such as Nkayi in Matabeleland have a shocking poverty prevalence of 96 percent.

It would seem that the consumption of the Christmas cuisine of chicken and rice which have so firmly come to mark the holiday in Zimbabwe may not be available for the majority of Zimbabweans, some of who only eat two meals a day.

Comments (1)

Its just Christmas after all. A pagan festival. A one day event in a 365 days year. If you Christmas is the most important thing that the current economic hardship has stolen from you then hausati wabirwa. I am not worried about not having Christmas there are more important things we should be worried about than xmas.

Changamire Dombo - 25 December 2015

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