Humour helps Zimbos get through crisis

HARARE - For Trymore Gumbo, 34, the long queues being witnessed in the fuel sector are a sad reminder of the 2008 scenario, where every queue was worth joining regardless of what will be on offer.

During the 2008 era, people had mastered the art of endurance, standing in queues for long hours even just for a loaf of bread.

But Zimbabweans, have over the years developed the art of finding humour in every situation.

In 2008, at the height of the economic crisis, a helpful joke of how one should join any queue he finds started making rounds, not until one realised he had joined a body viewing queue.

While this was a mere joke, it depicted the depth of the crisis.

Fast-tracked to 2018, the crisis is again rearing its ugly face, but this time it might be deeper than before.

Some are now joking around the issues, saying Zimbabwe is open for queues, taking a dig at President Emmerson Mnangagwa’s ‘‘Zimbabwe is open for business’’ mantra, but again this explains the seriousness of the situation.

But for people like Gumbo, who has been a commuter omnibus driver all his life, this is no laughing matter. Having witnessed the 2008 situation, a repeat of that, is like going back to hell.

“We have been through this road my brother and going back there after the good years of the government of national unity is unnecessary punishment,” Gumbo said, painting a gloomy picture of the situation.

In 2008, people began using all unorthodox means just to get to the precious liquid.

Some faked deaths, just to be served first at fuel pumps.

But the situation was really hard for those that had real issues like funerals and weddings.

There was no food on the shelves, while the little that was there was strictly rationed.

And just like in 2008, Zimbabwe seems to be following the same script, and the government seems stuck in trying to address the situation.

The Zimbabwean situation deteriorated over a week ago, after the government introduced a two percent tax regime for every dollar spent through electronic transactions.
This sparked outrage from members of the public, resulting in price hikes, shortages of basic commodities and the free-fall of the surrogate currency of the bond note, which was pegged at 1:1 with the US dollar.

Writing on his Twitter account, political analyst Alex Magaisa, said the situation is unlikely to improve any time soon.

“This has been sent from Harare. It’s a fuel queue. Many Zimbabweans are relieving a nightmare. Fuel businesses are complaining that the tax increase will consume a chunk of their margins. The situation is unlikely to improve anytime soon,” he said referring to a video of a fuel queue in Harare.

The situation hasn’t been easy, but economists, believe government is to blame in all this.

Ringing calls have been made for government to cut on unnecessary expenditure instead of increasing tax, which has proven a burden to the cash-strapped and poor Zimbabweans.

But president Emmerson Mnangagwa and the Finance minister Mthuli Ncube are on record saying the tax regime is necessary as people should endure the hardships before the situation gets back to normal.

But Zimbabweans, are not having any of it, with some saying, ‘‘once bitten shy twice’’.

People have resorted to stocking large quantities of basic commodities like cooking oil, salt and sugar, along with other products like rice and soap.

At the same time, fuel attendants are now cashing in on the long queues, as those that want to quickly get fuel will have to pay a small token to get to the front of the queue.

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