OVER the centuries, humanity and the animal world at large, have largely evolved through the principle of natural selection, which postulates that those who are eliminated in the struggle for existence are the unfit.
In fact, animals known as dinosaurs went extinct through the process of natural selection as survival of the fittest took its toll.
Such has become the life of many Zimbabweans since 2000 when the struggle to survive turned for the worse following a sudden land reform programme that created a harsh economic environment characterised by high unemployment and serious illiquidity.
As the southern African nation continues to find it tough to clear the woods, it has become a matter of life and death for many; just like it is in the African savannah wilderness where both the lion and the antelope have to wake up each day with a strong strategy for survival.
Zimbabweans have been known to be highly resilient and innovative in the face of adversity, but this time around the road will not be easy for many, especially for some Kwekwe based families who relied heavily on the Zimbabwe Iron and Steel Company (ZISCO), the Zimbabwe Iron and Smelting Company (Zimasco) and Sable Chemicals for survival.
The closure of Zimasco, late last year, was a heavy blow for many families who depended on the mining company for their sustenance.
Zimasco, which switched off its remaining two chrome smelters, owing to viability challenges, was a life saver for many families in Kwekwe’s high density suburb of Mbizo and its closure shattered the dreams and livelihoods of many.
Zimasco’s shutdown came on the heels of yet another job carnage at ZISCO in Redcliff, where government, which after years of failing to resuscitate the giant steel maker, let alone pay workers, announced that some 3 000 workers would be made redundant.
That effectively reduced ZISCO, once the pride of the nation and the region, into one gigantic scrap yard.
While Sable Chemicals is still operating, the company is struggling to stay afloat. The fertiliser manufacturer recently retrenched over 130 workers.
All these people will join the millions of Zimbabwe who now call themselves “SMEs” doing all sorts of odd jobs to make ends meet.
Development expert, Learnmore Zuze said 2016 will be a gruelling year for Zimbabweans.
“Whether one looks at it from an economic standpoint or political viewpoint, 2016 certainly promises to be a demanding year for Zimbabweans. In fact, it can be rightly said that the country is sliding back towards 2008. It’s simply a case of a different year, but marked with the same old problems, not to mention emerging ones.
“There doesn’t seem to be any flicker of hope towards ending the scourge of joblessness fuelled by company closures and the crippling difficulty in accessing credit lines. Vending, which has become a default trade for millions, will most likely see many Zimbabweans joining the trade as industry continues to groan under the pangs of a barren economy,” Zuze said.
The unforgivingly harsh Zimbabwean economy has forced many onto the streets of urban areas to eke out a living through vending.
Confirming the gloomy times ahead is the looming drought, hunger and an increase in food prices that is likely to impact negatively on livelihoods.
“We are likely to witness a fresh exodus of desperate people to other countries, despite the hostility experienced in foreign nations. It’s an ugly reality, but in all honesty there is no glimmer of hope in 2016. Zimbabwe needs honest solutions,” Zuze added.
The strenuous effects of the crumbling economy have resulted in formal sector unemployment rising to over 90 percent; household incomes remain very low, while children are dropping out of school at an alarming rate. A bad harvest is also expected to increase pressure on the existing burden faced by Zimbabweans who are already struggling to make ends meet as they endure the trials and tribulations of a subdued economy.
Another development specialist, Maxwell Saungweme, said there would be no respite for the poor and ordinary people in 2016.
“There is no rocket science here. No one needs to be an economist to give a bleak prognosis of 2016 in Zimbabwe. The economy is dying, the government is dysfunctional, drought is a reality. With a government that is not prepared to mitigate the effects of drought, we continue to tread along a path of policy inconsistencies and contradictions with regards to investment laws; we continue to have a huge international debt overhang and a huge local fiscal deficit; unemployment remains very high; and government continues to squeeze the little blood left in the people through heavy taxation and huge traffic and other local government fines,” Saungweme said
“With this state of affairs it will be very chimerical to predict anything, but doom for Zimbabweans — the doom of proportions worse than 2008. In 2008 we had our own currency and government could play around with it, we had no drought, we had a lot of international and local NGOs that had funds to support the poor, but now all these are gone. We have a US dollar we can’t manipulate as currency, NGO funding has dried up due to donor fatigue, drought is a reality and government is more chaotic than ever before — so its doom. Deflationary pressures continue and these are clear signs of an economy taking its last breath,” he added.
As everyone dreads the “return” to 2008, which was an era of serious economic meltdown, a cholera outbreak, political violence and hyperinflation, 2016 as experts warn, is a difficult year for many as drought and possible food shortages are expected across southern Africa in the wake of an El Nino weather phenomenon, which has disrupted rainfall patterns.
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