This year’s festive season is expected to be low key for most families in this border town given the massive retrenchments that characterized most companies midyear coupled with uncertainty over the payment of bonuses of civil servants.
Zimbabweans say it is unlikely that people will have a good festive season
The uncertainty over civil servants’ bonuses has unsettled a lot of families that were expecting a 13th cheque from the government to boost their buying power.
At the same time, the informal sector with millions of vendors is constrained by the depressed local economy due to local people’s low disposable income.
This has put paid to a festive season full of joy and happiness.
Mutare resident, Lewis Kashiri, who works in East Africa and is currently on holiday back home, says he hopes to have a modest Christmas after having saved for over a long period to enjoy with friends and relatives.
“I am kinda of ready because I having been planning over a period for this to spend with family; though I know is that it will not be the same with the past Christmases (years). I do not know if it’s going to be the same. The reason I say this is because I have already have some SOS for bailing out, so for some it’s going to be tough for sure, I know.”
Kashiri says he is, however, watchful and mindful that he does not overspend as he might end up borrowing money to return to work come mid-January 2016.
Kashiri adds that he also needs to cater for his extended family that is hard done by job losses in 2015.
“They are asking for groceries and so on and I will have to fulfill and not disappoint but basically I will be with my family around time and not travelling.”
Another Mutare resident and freelance journalist, Benjamin Mareya, says he has no holiday to talk of as it would all work for him.
He says even if he had wanted to go holidaying with his family; his spending power is limited as he will need to pay school fees for his three primary-school going children in 2016.
“Aaah!! Presently I don’t have any plans at all for this holiday unless if there is a miracle, because primarily I will be at work and secondly I do not have the money and buying power to spend on the festive for this year.”
Kenneth Matimaire, a Mutare resident living at Dangamvura high density suburb, says Christmas this year is not one thing that he is looking forward to because he does not have enough disposable income.
“It is a tough road ahead and will need to take each step as it comes but honestly there is not going to be much to look forward to this Christmas as far as I am concerned because there is no money for that.”
An employee with one big chain supermarket in Mutare, Prisca Mhere, says there is low business activity at the supermarket.
She says this is the lowest ever business activity that has been registered ever since she started working at the departmental store five years ago.
There are many other shops in Mutare, Manicaland province, that are in the same predicament, an indication of depressed celebrations this festive season.