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Zimbabweans Facing Poverty 34 Years After Independence

Despite a rich and diverse resource base, many analysts say 34 years into independence, the economy is worse now than it was in 1980.

The majority of Zimbabweans find themselves poor. By many estimates, Zimbabwe’s unemployment rate stands at more than 80-percent.

Many Zimbabweans fall into the category of the unrecorded informal sector, where they are selling goods and products, many obtained from across the borders of South Africa or Botswana.

Many, like Justice Mavedzenge of Harare say they did not expect this following independence.

Japhet Moyo, secretary general of the Zimbabwe Congress of Trade Unions says this is a reflection of the erosion of the good living many enjoyed in the early years of independence.

Moyo adds that the Zimbabwean worker is worse off than he or she was in 1976 during the colonial era.

He says the absence of people working in the formal sector has taken a toll on his membership which has seen a drastic reduction in membership numbers.

With almost 98 percent of the population in the informal sector, Moyo says the government needs to do more support these people, instead of penalizing them.

He says this in reference to such actions as Murambatsvina or Operation Remove Filth in 2005.

Meanwhile, Paddington Japajapa, president of the Zimbabwe Indigenous Economic Empowerment Group, says the government is largely to blame for the collapse of the economy due to years of corruption and bad policies.

Japajapa says government must deal with corruption and revert to what has proven to work, such as its power-sharing agreement with the opposition between 2009 and 2013, which led to improved economic conditions in the country.

During that time, scarcity of food and fuel was alleviated, as well as cash-flow and hyperinflation, due to the adoption of the use of multiple currencies over the Zimbabwean dollar.

Mavedzenge also says apart from dealing with corruption, government must right its relations with other countries to attract foreign direct investment which would then improve the economy.

Economist Irimai Mukwishu concurs, adding this could help Zimbabwe access money to resuscitate the economy, thereby creating jobs and improving people’s lives.

Former chief economist with Treasury, Masimba Manyanyaya, says this is attainable as long as the government sets its priorities.

He discourages Zimbabwe’s costly ventures into crisis such as the involvement in the Democratic Republic of Congo in the late 90s.

Further Moyo, says, government must create an enabling environment by addressing policy inconsistencies which deter investors from investing in the country.

But some remain hopeful, despite the poor state of the economy.
Wonderful Chikomo, though pessimistic about the situation, still hopes the government will revive the economy somehow.

Since independence Zimbabwe has adopted and implemented various economic policies and programs such as the economic structural adjustment program, land reform program, indigenization policy and short term economic review program and some of them have been blamed for collapsing the country’s economy while others were abandoned after it was realized they were not suitable for the country.

Vendor Susan Moyo Watidhi says she is struggling to make ends meet.
Another city resident, Sonia Mukurazhizha, says while the economy picked up in the first 10 years after independence, it has been declining since 2000 with only those connected to the government leaders befitting from the country’s resources.