High inflation, low disposable income and other economic hardships have forced a muted holiday season for most Zimbabweans.
Harare, Zimbabwe – This year, the joy of Christmas will be absent from the hearts of many Zimbabweans who will have to be content to remember the previous holiday seasons.
Their country is in the throes of an economic crisis as high inflation, low disposable income, wage cuts and general economic difficulties take their toll.
The Zimbabwe Congress of Trade Unions says the country’s unemployment rate stands at 90%, with people resorting to informal and casual jobs for some form of income.
The government says the actual figure is much lower, given informal employment.
Zimbabwe’s crisis began last year when the country entered hyperinflationary territory and is now at its peak with inflation above 400%, the Zimbabwean dollar at its lowest and wages depressed.
Disposable incomes are tighter than before, forcing Zimbabweans to forgo the festivities this year, and affecting businesses which typically look forward to Christmas as the best time of year.
Most Zimbabweans interviewed by Al Jazeera choose to prioritize what they do with their limited financial resources, choosing to buy school uniforms, pay school fees and buy books for their children when schools will reopen in two weeks.
Even those who are fortunate enough to have additional funds are cutting back on their expenses.
Harrison Makombe, 76
“Christmas this year is like there is no Christmas. Before, we impatiently awaited the arrival of Christmas. Now food is expensive and you can’t buy groceries for Christmas like we once did.
“To have fun, you need money. When you don’t have the money, you really can’t have fun and enjoy the holidays. So things are difficult for us.
“We have older children supporting us now, but they are struggling with their own families. So we don’t expect much this Christmas.
Regina Marange, 27
“Life is hard as it is and Christmas is going to be very hard.
“What little we have now we have budgeted for my older child (four years old) who should be in preschool next year.
“We decided to give up buying clothes. I was unable to make any money for most of the year from my resale business due to foreclosure. The money I have now is what I managed to earn after the government eased the lockdown. It’s been a really tough year and Christmas will be worse this time around.
Patience Nyado, 39 years old
“This Christmas doesn’t seem too good. I didn’t buy any new clothes for my three children and decided that I could use this money to pay for school fees due in two weeks.
“I’m an employee, but it’s really hard to make ends meet because the wages aren’t what they used to be. Christmas was good a few years ago because salaries made sense and people got bonuses. Today, they only earn 10% of what they used to earn.
“That’s why things are very difficult for me this time around. The COVID lockdown and the situation also made matters worse.
Richard Gamha, 23
“This year’s holiday season will be the worst for me. I am in industrial attachment and I only get $ 20 which I use for transportation. I am not expecting much from this budget. My parents take care of me and my four other siblings. This time around, they couldn’t buy new clothes for the family, as is tradition.
“The Christmas holidays from 2009 to 2013 were very good. These days the economy has worsened and we don’t expect much.
Nyasha Tafamba, 22 years old
“I need to pay rent and some days I don’t sell anything. Things are difficult. People normally buy a lot of clothes around this time. But that was not the case. So when they’re not clients like that.
“In previous years, you could afford to buy clothes and groceries. This time it’s different and it means I can’t have a normal vacation. “