All set for Christmas with a difference

Source: All set for Christmas with a difference | The Herald

All set for Christmas with a difference
Take care and show love to others this Christmas

Kudzai Muhamba and Marytise Vambayi

Christmas this year is likely to be different from the previous years as the economic reforms being implemented by the New Dispensation are restoring the Zimbabwean economy to normal with the serious wave of Covid-19 infection driven by the Omicron variant ebbing fairly quickly with just normal precautions rather than a tight no movement lockdown.

The reforms have seen stability. This is partly driven by the fact that all locally manufactured products are readily available for the first time in many years following the Second Republic’s interventions that allowed manufacturers to boost output significantly and the farming programmes that allowed farmers to grow enough food to feed the nation plus surplus.

Despite the Omicron surge, the Government decided to retain the Level Two lockdown, and urged everyone to take it seriously so that the lockdown did not need to be moved to a higher level.

Most people responded with far more adherence to the masking and other measures and that in turn has helped bring the surge under better control.

As a result, businesses are open and intercity travel by registered buses is permitted.

More road checkpoints should ensure that the intercity travel is properly run, and the bus crews will be insisting on masks and open windows.

People commenting yesterday kept mentioning the ready availability and the stable December prices, with no one having to buy anything from black-market dealers cornering a market in scarce goods.

The other factor that has boosted happiness over Christmas is both the ease of travel, the ready availability of fuel and the stable bus fares.

Mrs Dorothy Ndala who was travelling from Chegutu to Concession in Mashonaland Central, said: “This year’s Christmas is much better than last year. We managed to get time to work so basically people have money to spend.

“I am also happy that the bus fares didn’t change, at least for now. Prices for basic commodities are also stable while the goods themselves are easily available.”

Mr Innocent Mutari who was travelling to Mvurwi from Harare said: “This Christmas holiday is much better because although things are a bit hard, people are travelling freely and police is controlling traffic at pick-up points.

“Bus fares are stable, but we are facing challenges when converting the Zimbabwe dollars to US dollars, the rate is a bit high, the prices are high especially the basic commodities.”

Mr Anesu Mushunje said: “This Christmas is much better. The lockdown measures are still relaxed, allowing us to travel, of course adhering to WHO safety guidelines. The prices for basic commodities are generally stable although some prices have gone up.”

Even the black market has remained relatively stable. A couple of months ago social media was predicting a huge surge in rates at Christmas, which never happened. Part of this was a reduction in demand with easily the largest group of formally employed people, the civil servants, getting a foreign currency bonus, allowing them to pay any foreign bills without tapping the black market.

And supply rose, since some civil servants, after doing complex calculations, worked out that changing dollars on the black market and using the local currency in the formal sector went further than spending those same US dollars in the informal sector.

So even the flood of extra spending money, from other people’s bonuses and the better revenue for vendors and others, did not do much to the black currency market.

The temporary petrol shortage recently, after the oil terminal at Beira had to be closed for urgent maintenance, is now definitely over and if you want petrol it is there at service stations.

Most people are being relatively careful. School fees emerge in early January so there has been some banking and putting money aside.

But with the general improvement in the economy this year, with both the Government and most private companies managing to at least match inflation when it came to setting pay, there is money around, there are the goods around, both local and a fair selection of imported products not made in Zimbabwe, and families able to travel.