Around this time of the year, Santa Claus bells would have been toiling in Masvingo, one of Zimbabwe’s oldest urban settlements, while new cars and upmarket lounge suits will be gracing many homes.
Apart from that, most companies normally record brisk business at this time of the year with parents buying new clothes for their children. But all this appears to be a thing of the past.
All is not well for most people in this town where workers, like in other cities, have been almost living from hand to mouth due to company closures. In some cases, companies have been failing to pay workers as a result of operational problems.
For Lloyd Masango of Rhodene low density suburb, all is not well this year.
“Christmas is gloomy; it’s actually a difficult situation for us as workers our salaries are not coming in time. The economic conditions that we are in are bad and we cannot afford to prepare and enjoy Christmas. For myself and my family it’s gloomy as I am not going to get a salary so there are no celebrations at all,” says Masango.
Another resident, Nyarai Makuva of Majange high density suburb, who is a street vendor, says she will not be travelling to her rural home to celebrate the holidays with her family because of lack of money.
“There is nothing exciting for me I am just a vendor. The council is always after us and we can’t make money. This to me is a challenge as I am no longer going to my rural home for the festive holiday to enjoy it with my family. I can’t afford the money to travel there,” she says.
Other residents bemoan the harsh economic situation in Zimbabwe for causing untold suffering to their families leading to the demeaning of the once revered Christmas holidays.
Most parents say they won’t be able to buy special food and clothes for their children this year.
Lucia Masekesa of Rujeko says she is failing to explain to her children that she will not be able to buy them new clothes, gifts as well as special food on Christmas Day this year as she lost her job in July this year.
“For me it’s really sad that I am not able to convince or explain to my children and grandchildren that I will not be able to buy them anything for Christmas because I lost my job in July after the infamous Supreme Court ruling that allowed employers to dismiss workers on three months’ notices.”
Some says the fall of the rand in South Africa has further spoiled their Christmas holiday as they relied on relatives who work in the neighbouring country.
Some local people say they are now entirely dependent on their relatives living abroad, who are expected to send them money or goods for Christmas. Those with relatives in neighbouring South Africa think that this may not be the case this year as the South African rand has depreciated against the United States dollar widely used in Zimbabwe.
One of the affected people is local resident, Tafadzwa Makanga.
“This is a bleak Christmas for me, I am not employed, my relatives in South Africa say they are not coming because of the fall of the rand so I will just go to church and pray. The day will be just like any other day for me,” he says.
Problems being faced by Masvingo residents appear to be affecting most Zimbabweans this Christmas.