BULAWAYO — Easter holiday festivities in Zimbabwe are likely to be subdued as the majority of the country’ s citizens struggling to make ends meet.
The Easter holidays are the second most popular holidays celebrated internationally after Christmas and are a commemoration of the death and resurrection of Christianity’s Jesus Christ.
For many Zimbabweans who celebrated Christmas last December without much merry-making, this Easter again promises more of the same.
Events during the first quarter are pointing to further contraction of the economy, a situation that has left many living hand to mouth.
Zimbabwe Teachers’ Association chief executive officer, Sifiso Ndlovu, said he did not see workers enjoying this Easter holiday because of resource constraints.
“For the educators, I do not see them travelling and partying. I see them homebound because they do not have the resources to travel,” said Ndlovu.
He urged Zimbabweans to utilise the holiday to pray for the turnaround of the economy, which he said was making life difficult for many.
“Holidays in general are costly, but Zimbabweans still look forward to them because they provide them with time to rest,” he said.
Retailers are also feeling the pinch over the subdued buying power.
In previous years, retail outlets would be busy as shoppers made frantic last minute efforts to buy groceries ahead of the long weekend.
“From the assessments which we have made, it appears there is absolutely no business to talk about this Easter holiday,” said Simba Phiri, the secretary-general of the Retailers Association of Bulawayo.
“If it was in the years gone by, everybody would be having a holiday mood by now, running here and there, but as it stands, the situation resembles 2008.”
At the height of hyper-inflation in 2008, most retail outlets across the country had empty shelves as the economic hardships worsened.
“I do not see most people travelling during the holidays,” said the Bulawayo Progressive Residents Association secretary for administration, Anglistone Sibanda, pointing out that this was directly linked to the difficult economic situation.
“The spending capacities are limited as some people have not been getting their salaries. The majority of people are likely to be at church with their families,” Sibanda added.
Across the border, the weakening of the South African rand, against the United States dollar, is bad news for Zimbabweans working in the neighbouring country. Trading at an exchange rate US$1/R15,23, the purchasing power of injiva has been significantly eroded in the US dollar-based economy.
The development means fewer nationals (iniiva) based south of the Limpopo River are likely to crossover to Zimbabwe to be with their loved ones during Easter.
Sindiso Moyo, the Migrant Workers’ Union of South Africa’s general secretary, said Zimbabweans based in South Africa had mixed feelings about coming home during the Easter holiday because of the weakness of their currency.
“But that has not dampened the mood of people to travel back home, although the influx might not be like in past years,” said Moyo.
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