Today it’s Christmas Day, but the cheer is missing and the Grinch has nothing to do with it. Or maybe he just changed form and morphed into the creature called government.
Like many other things in the country, Christmas celebrations have become a preserve of the few nouveau riche, the majority of who are politicians and those that are connected to them.
There is nothing festive about this holiday. How can there be? The majority of Zimbabweans have to contend with massive joblessness and cannibalistic pricing of basic goods and have nothing to be merry about.
The spectre of thousands of children failing to go to make it when schools open shortly is very real. Schools, spooked by the rising cost of, well, everything, will likely demand to be paid in either hard currency or pile on increases of not-less-than 400%.
The truth of the matter is that in view of the recent wave of shocking prices of basic commodities at a time when many companies are struggling to pay salaries, this is the bleakest festive holiday in memory.
Of course, President Emmerson Mnangagwa, who is wishing the country a merry Christmas, and his compatriots in government, may not understand this because they will probably not feel the pinch.
The bumps along the road are for the poor, and not the rich and powerful who are an integral part of the system that has brought this country down to its knees over the years.
Which pain should the majority of people be taking when those in power and their allies are living large?
Just recently, Delta Beverages, the country’s largest beverage manufacturer, recently shut some of its plants due to a prohibitive economic environment, meaning the majority of citizens will have their first ever Christmas without Coke, an unthinkable and unimaginable thing, to say the least.
But the soft drinks question is just a tip of the iceberg. The bigger issue is that many employees are likely going to be laid off as Delta scales down operations, and other end-stream industries linked to Delta will also be affected. This clearly indicates that the “Zimbabwe is open for business” mantra is no more than just lip service.
Traditionally, Christmas is a time for celebration and family and friends gatherings. But this is unlikely to happen today as the cost of transportation is now beyond the reach of many, making it impossible to cross neighbourhoods, while others are likely to spend a bigger chunk of the holidays queueing at fuel stations across the country.
Indeed, we are all hoping for a prosperous 2019, but let the powers that be appreciate that this will not happen automatically. If they continue with the same trajectory of ‘who cares’, it’s highly unlikely that we will get out of the current mess.