THE average salary of a Zimbabwean teacher is now only able to buy just 20 loaves of bread. But the majority of the teachers’ take home can no longer even buy half a dozen loaves given that many of them have loans which suck away much of their salaries. And this is a typical example of the plight of workers in the public sector.
In the private sector the majority of workers are subsidising companies by going the extra mile to keep firms afloat and get just enough to put morsels of food on the table as some now cycle or walk to and from work.
In the informal sector, now sustaining the majority of citizens, it is dog-eat-dog eking out a living on the margins of an economy that is barely managing to sustain its own currency.
Prices of goods and services have run amok, yet incomes have remained stagnant and in that state they are sitting ducks to rampaging inflation. And being winter in Zimbabwe, the unusually frosty weather seems to be conspiring with the country’s chilling circumstances.
Yet, given this obviously calamitous state of affairs, our esteemed Finance minister Mthuli Ncube is bizarrely convinced that all is very well in Zimbabwe.
“What crisis? We are performing well. We have put measures in place to fight inflation, people should not panic, everything is in order, zvinhu zvese zvakarongeka,” is Ncube’s informed prognosis of Zimbabwe’s socio-economic situation.
The minister’s display of complete ignorance of Zimbabwe’s prevailing dire state is more than flabbergasting.
If he really believes in what he said, then one thing is for sure: There are two Zimbabwes, one for the suffering majority and the other for the pampered few like Ncube who are obviously enjoying themselves in the country.
To call Ncube’s state of mind, denial, would be missing the point. The man is absolutely right because he is living in a real Zimbabwe. A Zimbabwe where the elite and those connected to them live luxurious and lavish lives of Pompeii of old.
Theirs is a life of unfettered access to the fine things in life; a life of boundless access to money, the best food, treated water and the choicest health facilities in foreign lands yonder.
It is obviously very difficult for Ncube and his ilk to see, or even understand the poverty and hunger surrounding them because the life of opulence has blinded them and deafened them to hear the loud cries of millions of Zimbabweans groaning in painful impecuniousness.
Some have called on Ncube to resign because he is out of touch with the prevailing catastrophic reality facing Zimbabweans, but as things stand, it is quite evident that theirs is a sheer waste of breath and energy. The last thing Ncube would do is resign. A life of affluence has thickened his skin.
Our situation as a country, when those leading us are so far removed from reality, is more than tragic. The chasm between us, the ordinary suffering Zimbabweans, and our leaders riding on a gravy train, is now so great that many wonder what it would take to close it.
Writer Alan Paton was prophetic when he wrote: Cry, the beloved country. The only stark difference to our situation is that the injustice is black on black, hence the pain is even more excruciating.