via Year 2015 has taken us back to 2008 – NewsDay Zimbabwe November 17, 2015
The year 2008, marked by hostilities, from the worthless Zimbabwean dollar, the endless queues; the unavailability of basic food items; the uncertainty of the economy to faltering government policies, seems to mirror the year 2015. For all intents and purposes, the year 2015 has turned out to be the other side of the 2008 coin, a close cousin of the regrettable year.
The agony being endured by Zimbabweans in 2015 is like the year 2008 has returned with a vengeance on the hapless people of Zimbabwe. In fact, it is an ongoing social debate whether 2008 was harsher than 2015, but one thing cannot be denied: Both years carry the hallmark of anguish for Zimbabweans. It had to take the Government of National Unity (GNU) to put out the merciless and ravaging hunger and economic meltdown of 2008.Now, one wonders exactly what will halt the economic free-fall besetting the nation in 2015. For all its turbulence, the inclusive government gave Zimbabweans a reprieve; for once, families could afford decent meals. Slowly the GDP had begun to rise. Industry also began to show signs of life. Hordes of civil servants who had fled hunger to neighbouring South Africa began to troop back into the country to claim their abandoned jobs.
Most companies extended a pardon to all who had deserted their jobs without notice. There was leniency and dignity was temporarily restored to the people of Zimbabwe. The brickloads of the Zimbabwean dollar were replaced by the much weightier US dollar. Money, again, could buy and momentarily Zimbabweans were spellbound. There was even a call for those in the Diaspora to come back to a “restored” Zimbabwe. Again, the police began to warn members of the public against the prying eyes of pickpockets; under the Zimbabwean dollar, marked by bricks of notes, no pocket thief bothered stealing. Wallets, again, had assumed their original purpose, not only that of keeping bank cards as characterised by the year 2008. There was a semblance of dignity to Zimbabwean life during the GNU years turbulent as they were.
2008 will go down in history as the year when things came to an ugly head such that formal employment which people eagerly pursue today had lost its lustre. People quit employment en masse opting for menial jobs in other countries. What was the point of toiling for a pittance? 2008 will be remembered as the year when Zimbabwe, an African country, rivalled the German economic depression where a whole month’s salary could not buy a bundle of vegetables. There was no point in formal work, everyone had taken to “burning” money and the economy promoted unscrupulous means of surviving.2008 was marked by empty shops and a thriving black market. Everything was readily available on the black market which most Zimbabweans could not afford. Again, the state of things in 2008 sparked a mass exodus to foreign countries.
2015 has turned out to be the other side of 2008. One will find everything there is to buy in the shops; all groceries that had been scarce in 2008 are readily available yet the US currency has proven to be elusive. It’s no longer a case of too much money chasing after a few goods; it’s now a case of scarce money against available goods. The cost of living has spiralled yet again. It’s a question of whether, like the 2008 scenario, one holds worthless notes against a backdrop of empty shops; or like in 2015, where one starves to death while shops are teeming with food items.
The irony of both years is that while many shunned formal employment in 2008, 2015 has seen many breaking down with neurological ailments after the earth-shattering Supreme Court ruling which saw the termination of over 25 000 of the few remaining jobs in the country. Formal employment has come to assume great importance today yet many never bothered to resign in 2008 as they left work in droves in frustration. 2015 may even be worse in that a perverse culture has taken root where workers can go for as many as 10 months without getting a salary. While 2008 ensured employees got the worthless notes, today there may be no salary to talk of. Very few people find themselves in employment with the bulk of Zimbabweans forced into vending. The job carnage has caused a fresh exodus, breadwinners have no option but to go where they can fend for their families. An estimated 5 000 people are said to be crossing daily into South Africa. To think that this is the same country that had hundreds fleeing xenophobia a few months ago defies the mind.
What hope is there for longsuffering Zimbabweans? What would happen if the government moved in to reduce the civil service as is being mulled?
The economy is sliding towards the unenviable year of 2008.Truly Zimbabweans have been placed between a rock and a hard place.
lLearnmore Zuze is a legal researcher, author, and media analyst. He writes here in his own capacity. E-mail:email@example.com