Harare, Zimbabwe (CNN)In tattered blue overalls and torn gumboots, Blessing Mautsa, 34, a sand dealer in Harare’s Mbare-Magaba industrial market sits miserably in the shade, his crestfallen face is evidence of a day’s toil for little return.
Risk of starvation
‘2020 will be worse’
Zimbabwe has banned the use of US dollars — preferring the Zimbabwe dollar — but its citizens still quote prices in American currency.
The official interbank market tends to be controlled by the central bank, and mostly does not reflect the currency’s real value, forcing many Zimbabweans to use black market dealers when trading foreign currencies.
Going to bed hungry
‘This country has reduced me to a pauper’
Natasha Munzara, 33, a street hawker who braves the blistering heat to eke out a living shouts herself hoarse attracting customers to her stall, but her meager earnings from selling vegetables and plastic wares are simply not enough to take care of her family.
The mother-of-three said she has been planning to leave Zimbabwe for the past two years, but has faced delays in getting a passport. And — crucially — she hasn’t been able to save enough money to care for her children in her absence.
“Things are going up everyday. I rent two rooms and I have to pay US$30, which is way beyond what I earn. My husband is sick and he cannot provide for our family. This country has reduced me to a pauper. I am a professional cook,” Munzara told CNN.
“I have to get out of this country. We cannot continue like this until the next elections. I recently asked my aunt to register me for a food program, just to supplement our food at home, that is how bad it is.”
A ‘dead economy’
Mnangagwa has blamed US sanctions for Zimbabwe’s economic crisis. The US imposed economic sanctions in 2003 on Mugabe and 76 other high-ranking government officials, accusing them of undermining democracy.
“The continued judgment setting of Utopian standards for Zimbabwe are callous, vindictive and should not be allowed to continue … enough is enough,” Mnangagwa told supporters at a rally in October.
However, he later pleaded for patience from Zimbabweans, acknowledging that the country’s economy was “dead.”
“I’m aware of the pain being experienced by the poor and the marginalized. Getting the economy working again from being dead will require time, patience, unity of purpose and perseverance,” Mnangagwa said.
Sigauke says a prayer as he hopes for good news from the doctors — after hours spent trying to secure her a spot in the clinic’s intensive care unit.
“We came here at 2 am after trying other clinics close to our area. We could only get her admitted after 6 am. I am praying for the best. I just hope the burns are not that serious because we all depend on her as the breadwinner,” said Sigauke.
Sigauke’s story resonates with many Zimbabweans who cannot afford decent healthcare due to rising costs and the country’s ongoing doctors’ strike.
They accuse the government of failing to provide basics like bandages, syringes and gloves, and describe the country’s healthcare situation as a “silent genocide.”
“Hospitals are incapacitated… Our hospitals are in dire need of basic equipment to investigate simple conditions and also the fact that the equipment is obsolete. There is no water in the wards,” Zimbabwe Hospital Doctors Association treasurer-general, Tapiwa Mungofa told CNN.
Parirenyatwa was once a busy hospital, serving thousands of patients daily. It is now virtually derelict. Only a few wards are occupied by critically ill patients.
“The authorities are not saying anything about what is happening in hospitals. But we all know that people are dying. They are dying … avoidable deaths that shouldn’t happen when doctors are there,” Mungofa said.