THE age-old African saying that “when two bulls fight, it is the grass that suffers” rings true for many downtrodden Zimbabweans, most of whom struggle to have a morsel of bread at a time their pockets have been hard hit by the prevailing harsh economic environment.
Candid Comment,Owen Gagare
While those walking down the corridors of power have taken oaths to faithfully and diligently serve the nation, it is now apparent that their obsession is locking horns with real and perceived rivals over President Robert Mugabe’s succession question.
The ordinary person bears the brunt of the protracted battle. Zimbabweans have thus become accustomed to one low after another, thanks to a power-hungry but clueless leadership, which has no idea whatsoever of turning around the country’s economic fortunes.
Isn’t it ironic that Zanu PF won the last general elections on the back of a promise to create jobs, culminating in the party’s election manifesto inspiring government’s economic blueprint, ZimAsset, which, among other deliverables, aims to create 2,2 million jobs by 2018.
Under the programme, government projected 7,7% average annual GDP growth between 2013 and 2018, with peak growth targets of as much as 9,9% in 2018 hence the creation of the jobs.
But to highlight how much government has failed, it emerged this week that over 2 000 workers were retrenched from various sectors of the economy in the first half of this year.
In other words, an average of 333 workers lost their jobs every month.
This represents a huge figure given the alarming levels of unemployment in the country and previous job loses due to retrenchments and company closures.
Parastatals, most of which have become feeding troughs for politicians, accounted for more than 60% of those laid off, bringing the number of those who lost jobs in the first half of the year to more than 2 000.
Finance minister Patrick Chinamsa revealed in his 2015 budget statement that 55 543 workers were thrown onto the streets as a result of the closure of 4 610 jobs between 2011 and 2014.
Thousands more were laid off in cruel fashion when a 2015 Supreme Court ruling allowed employers to dismiss workers on three months’ notice without paying a retrenchment package.
While the rate of retrenchments has slowed down since companies embarked on a stampede to lay off workers following the ruling, job cuts have continued across the economy largely because of the harsh economic climate characterised by low production, as well as cash and liquidity challenges.
As jobs continue being lost, those in authority continue expending their energy on succession politics, which, to many is an indication that government is insensitive to people’s suffering.
To some, however, the inaction could also be confirmation that those feasting on the ruling party’s gravy train are parasites and have accepted they have nothing meaningful to offer.