For Zimbabweans After Mugabe: A Change ‘for the Worse’

By Sally Nyakanyanga, Special to The Epoch Times
June 23, 2019 Updated: June 23, 2019

HARARE, Zimbabwe—Maria Menza wakes up at 4 a.m. to buy fruit at Mbare Musika, a fruit and vegetable market in Zimbabwe’s capital, Harare, to sell to passersby in the city’s central business district.

“To think I am getting less than 50 cents [in Zimbabwean RTGS dollars] less in profit for these bananas, which is not even enough to take me back home and feed my children,” Menza, a widow who resides in Budiriro, a high-density area in Harare, told The Epoch Times.

The story was the same for 29-year-old Godfrey Chitova, a father of one who lost his job as a bus driver last year after the commuter vehicle he was driving started breaking down, forcing the owner to sell it.

“Now, I come to the CBD once a week and survive through manning a bus rank at Fourth Street, getting RTGS$30 for the whole day,” Chitova said.

The money, he says, goes toward rent, food for four people, and transportation home to Epworth, a high-density settlement southeast of Harare. He needs $6 to cover transport costs alone.

“This is hard and I can’t live like this as it is hand-to-mouth. By the time I go back to the [bus] rank, I am in arrears. Even getting a job at a construction company would help, as the money I’m getting loses value every day and the prices of basic commodities continue to go up every day,” Chitova said.

Hope Turns to Disappointment

The Epoch Times also spoke to Dhobha Moyowatidhi, a shoe vendor who now sells his shoes in U.S. dollars.

“We thought after the end of former President Robert Mugabe’s rule, we would have someone with the people at heart and who can listen to our grievances. That’s why I was one of the many people who went into the streets to demonstrate that he goes,” Moyowatidhi said.

He says he celebrated Mugabe’s ouster because the former leader didn’t listen to the people. But, during Mugabe’s rule, travel costs from home were 50 cents, a loaf of bread cost 80 cents, and milk was 50 cents, so life was somewhat better, he said.

“Now, less than two years later, I need $7 to come to the central business district, [and] a loaf of bread now costs $5—that is, if it is available,” Moyowatidhi said.

“As a Zimbabwean, I was looking forward to a unity government, as were the indications from both the Movement for Democratic Change and the ruling party Zimbabwe African National Union Patriotic Front [ZANU-PF], as we thought they were in one accord, but little did we know things will change for the worse.”

Inflation continues to soar, reaching almost 100 percent in May, making life hard for the majority of Zimbabwe’s citizens as the cost of basic goods go up, and the queues of cars waiting for fuel remain. Many who spoke with The Epoch Times expressed little hope that things would improve soon.

“Life is hard and the people who are buying from us [in U.S. dollars] are being paid in the local currency, yet they have not received any pay increase,” Moyowatidhi said.

With most goods now being sold in U.S. dollars, including rental payments, the majority of people are stuck in a difficult situation as they paid in the local currency—which is quickly losing its value. Removing the local currency and starting to pay people in U.S. dollars, according to the sources that The Epoch Times spoke with, will aid the situation.

“The leadership needs to listen to people’s issues,” Menza said. “At present, we are just boiling inside as a people, because we are afraid to demonstrate for fear of being beaten or being followed.”

Moyowatidhi said: “The government should allow citizens to express themselves, that way we begin to have confidence in their leadership as currently as a people we fear something can happen to us if we do [express ourselves].

“Our country won’t progress if the people don’t have trust in the government of the day, and there is now more need to consider the young generation as they are in sync with the technological advances in the world.”

Chitova concurred: “Government should listen to people and give the young people the opportunity to take the country forward.”