ZIMBABWEANS celebrated Christmas on Saturday but the subdued festivities pointed to a people weary of the struggling economy and an unpredictable tomorrow.
As the curtain comes down on a forgettable 2021, Zimbabweans can only wish the year goes with all its anguish and hope for better days ahead.
Much like 2020, it has been an awful year that everyone wants to quickly forget.
It was a terrible year for the workers in general as many companies failed to provide the 13th cheque while the government promised much and delivered very little.
It has been a year when the economy was hit hardest by the COVID-19 pandemic, starting with a surge in cases and deaths this time last year going into January.
Again, as the country awaits the New Year, cases are on the rise and Zimbabwe is facing a potentially messy year ahead.
The health delivery system is stretched to the limit, and frustrated health personnel is flocking out of the country in large numbers.
This year’s Christmas did not have the usual electrifying atmosphere simply because the people, well the majority of them, did not have money to spend.
In the better days, Christmas was time for festivities, spending, wining and dining with family and involved lots of travelling but for the second year in a row, all that was non-existent.
According to Christendom mythology, Christmas is a day to praise and worship while celebrating the birth of Jesus Christ. That festive spirit was largely absent on a population struggling to access cash from banks and trying to make sense of the sudden spike in prices and public transport fares.
It had all started on a promising note, with macroeconomic indicators showing an improvement in growth and inflation developments between 2020 and 2021. According to Finance minister Mthuli Ncube, the economy is poised to record growth of 7,8% propelled by agriculture, mining and manufacturing sectors as well as a significant decline in annual inflation.
But inflationary pressures returned towards the end of 2021 and look set to continue in 2022, largely influenced by rising money supply as government pushes capital projects ahead of 2023 polls and the runaway parallel market exchange rate. There is price instability which in itself will likely lead to civil disobedience as costs rise faster than wages.
Unavailability of credit and shortage of foreign currency remain stumbling blocks with no quick solution in sight. There is also an unpredictable policy landscape, and rising graft and red tape in public offices with little appetite to deal with the vices.
Zimbabweans deserve to be happy again and for that to happen, the government, the Grinch that stole Christmas this year, needs to shape up.
We can only hope.