The Grinch steals Xmas cheer again

HARARE – Zimbabweans are once again facing a bleak Christmas, with most families finding themselves with barely enough to survive following a year characterised by a tough economy and cash shortages, among a myriad problems.

For years now, the hard-pressed masses have not enjoyed the festive holidays, let alone put food on the table, as many have been reduced to vendors.

With almost all companies running on shoe-string budgets and dozens buckling under the mounting economic pressures, the general standard and quality of living for many has sharply deteriorated.

There had been hope of a cheerful Christmas miracle following the November 14 military intervention that forced former president Robert Mugabe to end his 37-year rule.

But the hopes have been dampened as prices of basic commodities have sharply increased beyond the reach of the already struggling people.

The much-cheered departure of 93-year-old Mugabe — accused of destroying Zimbabwe’s once thriving economy due to his bad policies and poor governance — is yet to reflect on the broken economy.

The long cash queues at banks remains a common feature, and will force many to go into the holiday cashless.

It is thus no surprise that many, unable to afford the basic necessities, are not stopping to notice the Christmas lights.

“Christmas has just become another day, and I will be at my work station selling my wares,” a Harare vendor, Phineas Tinei, told the Daily News on Sunday.

With Zimbabwe’s economy having been in the doldrums for years, the Christmas spirit — expressed through gift donations and carolling — has died.

Confederation of Zimbabwe retailers president Denford Mutashu said every coin is being stretched to the limit.

“Yes, at some point we had affordability issues but government through ministry of Trade engaged business and we are seeing prices coming down,” he said.

However, while the glittering 2017 resolutions may have been wiped out by the tough economic environment, some are drawing solace from President Emmerson Mnangagwa’s first steps in office, coupled with a progressive 2018 Budget which appeared to have created a window for political redemption.