via We are to blame – NewsDay Zimbabwe September 5, 2015
The Government has to address Zimbabwe’s economic crisis as a matter of urgency because the current job losses that have resulted in an upsurge in criminal activities.
A Westlea couple is admitted at a local hospital after carjackers poured sulphuric acid in their faces as they had arrived at the gate of their home.
The husband had gone to open the gate when a car parked right behind their vehicle and occupants of that car approached him and demanded cash.
A scuffle ensued when one of them poured acid into his face. His wife disembarked from the car when she too suffered the same fate and screamed for help as she ran towards their home.
The robbers took off with both vehicles. However, the robber who drove the stolen car abandoned it at the corner of Robert Mugabe Road and Rotten Row when fumes of the sulphuric acid took a toll on the robber.
This is just one of the many nasty incidents that have occurred in Harare since the wave of job losses started following the Supreme Court ruling that now allows employers to terminate contracts of their employees on three months’ notice.
So bad is the situation especially in Harare where thousands have been left homeless as most were renting homes and without an income, some will have to go to their rural homes.
There is one particular sad case of a mine worker who was served with such a notice who decided to take his family to his rural home in Shurugwi.
As he was in the process of packing his belongings, he received a telephone call informing him that the rural home had been razed down to the ground by fire. He collapsed and suffered a bad stroke that has left him speechless and paralysed.
So what happens to his wife and two teenage boys and a young daughter?
I also heard of many landlords who are reaping nothing from property they are leasing to tenants who are failing to pay rentals as their pockets quickly run out of cash. Some landlords have since decided to allow some tenants to stay on compassionate grounds, but for how long?
A walk in the Avenues area of Harare shows a good number of empty flats which obviously is an indication that there are no takers for them. The scenario in low-density suburbs is so glaring. The impact of job losses on the real estate sector is really bad as tenants seek smaller homes or houses to share . . . But for how long?
Yesterday I went to a popular supermarket to buy a few items and I noticed that the bread and confectionary products are never fresh. You are told “they are from yesterday”. I also noticed that bread rolls were being mixed with the previous day’s ones and I think this is a bad marketing practice.
This is because stocks are not moving and no sector has been spared including the beer and beverage industry.
Two weeks ago I wrote that it is almost uncertain as to how long people still employed will last in their jobs because most companies are barely making profits to break even.
Zimbabwe has since become a country of vendors, but with huge losses in income, who will buy the wares on offer?
South Africa and Botswana were a favourite destination for such people, but these countries have introduced stringent immigration rules that make it difficult for Zimbabweans to get a job.
Every Zimbabwean that I know has a family member or friend living and working in South Africa, a country that has brought so much hope for locals that found themselves jobless. It is a land of opportunities, just like the United States of America especially for Zimbabweans.
However, the recent xenophobic attacks on foreigners were a signal that foreigners are no longer wanted in that country.
So where we do we go from here?
Without a retrenchment package or a paid-up home, how will families cope in this crisis? Right now some parents are burdenedwith school-going children that may not be returning for lessons after schools open because they have no money for school fees and transport.
Those employed by the government as civil servants who were the most secure employees are also facing the same problem.
Recent media reports stated that over 20 000 untrained teachers would face the axe. Unconfirmed reports also indicate that medical doctors employed by the government are also set to lose jobs under this law and it is everyone’s wonder as to what will happen to the millions of patients that are not on medical aid.
Even those on medical aid are failing to access treatment because companies are failing to remit payments to medical aid societies and hence patients have to pay cash.
One medical doctor I know who graduated in 2012 the situation as dire. He has applied for jobs in neighbouring countries, but has not received a positive response.
“It is heartrending to see patients failing to access medical attention even for the simplest of ailments,” the doctor said.
The irony of the whole situation is that although Zimbabwe is not in a war situation, it resembles one given the manner in which citizens are fleeing the country. This is something that is also baffling the international community.
With a bad harvest that Zimbabwe has experienced, hunger will set in and the results of all these problems are just catastrophic.
Meanwhile, some fly-by-night churches are ripping cash from gullible people who are seeking divine intervention for their problems where they are being “forced” to seed money so that God can rescue them from their problems.
Some people will obviously become richer while most people get poorer under the present dire circumstances. The government has to seriously go back to the drawing board and see where it went wrong. Our economic problems are no doubt man-made and it is shameful to blame colonialists or sanctions for the mess we all find ourselves in.
We are to blame.