Candid Comment: Faith zaba
THE battle to keep body and soul together is fraught with numerous difficulties as the impact of the economic decline characterised by a severe foreign currency shortage, high unemployment and low productivity, takes its toll.
The salary earned by a worker in the formal market, which is just 5% of the entire population, is in the local currency that has been heavily eroded, particularly after government separated forex and RTGS accounts in October last year.
Already bearing the burden of high taxes including the 2% tax imposed by government last year, the average worker also has to contend with the continued skyrocketing of prices of basic commodities as well as buy some of the commodities which are in short supply at a premium on the black market. To add to the woes of the overtaxed worker is last month’s 150% hike in the price of fuel, which has sparked a further increase in prices of goods and services.
As if that is not enough, the price of drugs, hospital and doctors’ fees have shot up significantly with most medicines pegged against the United States dollar. Private hospitals which offer a much better service than public hospitals, which normally do not have even basic painkillers, are charging in fees pegged against the greenback.
Sending children to school is another major drain on the pocket as most schools have hiked school fees with some adding a foreign currency component to the cost. This is over and above the price of school uniforms which have in some cases doubled in price. Funeral assurance companies and medical health insurers have also hiked their subscriptions by more than 30%.
All these costs build up at a time salaries remain stagnant with employers failing to effect a pay increase citing viability challenges. Currently inflation is officially computed at 42% although leading economist Steve Hanke says it is way above 230%.
Zimbabweans are living from hand to month. The situation is even worse for the 95% not in formal employment, who do not have medical cover and a regular paycheck. Zimbabweans are struggling to earn a living but it seems the system is rigged against them. The system is impoverishing its people. As a Zimbabwean, you feel like you are continuously under attack from the high cost of living and burdensome taxes. There is a general sense of helplessness and hopelessness in the country. Over the past two decades, the worker has lost savings, pensions and life assurance premiums. This destroys the human spirit.
All these problems can be squarely laid at the door of poor policies and misrule by Zanu PF which has continued after the administration of former president Robert Mugabe.
The current hardships have dissipated the euphoria brought about by Mugabe’s dramatic exit which paved way for President Emmerson Mnangagwa.
Mnangagwa has spoken ad nauseam of the need for Zimbabweans to take the pain as his administration turns around the economy. But how much pain can a long-suffering Zimbabwean take?