Liquidity crisis – a tale of two Christmases in Zimbabwe

Home International Liquidity crisis – a tale of two Christmases in Zimbabwe

HARARE – Christmas remains the holiday of choice for many across the globe. In many parts of the world, the Christmas mood often grips people as early as November when most workers receive bonuses, also known as the 13th cheque. It was however a different situation for Zimbabwe where the economy is reeling from severe liquidity constraints.

For many ordinary Zimbabwean families the festive season did not yield much of its traditional glitz and luster. This was the case, at least, for hard-pressed workers.  The story was, however, different for the well-to-do in societies who know about liquidity constraints facing the Zimbabwe economy but who hardly feel their impact. It was indeed a tale of two Christmases, each one experienced through completely different stomachs.

“I flew out with my girlfriend to a holiday resort where we enjoyed a cruise on a yacht. We rounded off the vacation with a week of shopping in Paris,” said Ronald Moyo of Harare’s leafy Borrowdale suburb during a chat with New Era last week.

“This has become a Christmas ritual for me over the past five years. I make it a point that l plan for this special event from the onset of the year,” he said.

Beetina Kavara, a 34-year-old of Mount Pleasant suburb also in the capital city of Harare did her routine shopping to restock the pantry some two weeks before Christmas. She too had a memorable Christmas because her children live overseas and they came home for the holiday. It is always a happy occasion when the family gets together.

However, ordinary Zimbabweans described the 2013 Christmas as the “worst ever” and said the future looked bleak due to a myriad of economic challenges facing the country. People who spoke to New Era in a snap survey in Harare said in 2014 the situation is likely to worsen if the country does not receive adequate rainfall.

A taxi driver Alfred Mumba said there was no reason to celebrate Christmas as he did not have enough money to spoil his family. “All l can say is that in the year 2013 there was no Christmas,” said Mumba, adding that he could not travel so he spent the day at home.

Shepherd Matota, a sales manager with a local shoe shop, Bata, said: “There was no Christmas for us because there was no cash. I foresee that 2014 will be tougher because we can see there will be no cash. We really do not know what they will do. We asked the government to do something because things are really tough now.”

A self-employed Itai Dzamba concurred saying the 2013 Christmas was different from that of prior years. “There was no money, and there is still no money, and l would be lying if l say l enjoyed my Christmas,” he said.

“I also see that the new year 2014 will be worse. We don’t even know how we will pay school fees for the children. There is no bright future for us.”

Jane Marimo Stovring, an Afro jazz singer and businesswoman, said her Christmas was good as her business was overwhelmed with clients. “We run a lodge and it was fully booked. We actually turned away some clients,” said Stovring.

A social worker from London, Lillian Adams, said the Christmas mood was different from the previous years when she came home. “The mood for the 2013 Christmas was very low key. In the previous years there was lot of activities, but this year there was nothing of that sort. People were subdued and quiet – there was no Christmas at all. I had to bring Christmas to the people. I am not sure if people did not have money or they just wanted to be quiet since the atmosphere was not one of Christmas,” she explained.

She said that this was a sign that it was going to be tough for the ordinary Zimbabwean this year. “I heard people saying Christmas is over, it’s back to reality now, and they see the future as bleak. And there are no rains again, which makes it worse for people, especially in the rural areas,” she said.

By Clemence Tashaya