With only two weeks left before the year comes to an end, Zimbabweans have already described 2020 as one of the most difficult in recent history.
While the year was promising for many at the beginning, things took a different direction altogether in March following the detection of the first case of coronavirus in the country.
The subsequent placing of the country under the Covid-19-induced lockdown, whose intensity has been felt for more than six months, shattered hopes and dreams for many, who could not be productive in an already ailing economy.
CITE this week spoke to a number of citizens who reflected on their experiences during the year under review.
Thabani Ncube, of Luveve in Bulawayo, said it was a miracle how people were still surviving, describing 2020 as one of the most difficult years Zimbabweans have ever seen.
“Some businesses have collapsed and the big issue with our economy is that most of those who are employed are earning peanuts,” he decried.
“The money they earn does not even cover things needed by families; families can’t afford to buy food for the whole month and you wonder how people are surviving in a harsh economy like this.”
Kumbirai Nyandoro of Barbourfields also in Bulawayo said he would always remember 2020 for its water woes in the city.
“This year has been hectic with us always hassling for water,” he lamented.
“A Christmas without water wouldn’t be a pleasant one.”
Ndumiso Sibanda, who fled the economic crisis in Zimbabwe and now based in South Africa said 2020 has been full of surprises.
“A lot of unanticipated things happened and honestly a lot of us never saw it coming,” he said.
“Obviously being a Zimbabwean in a foreign land I had plans like everybody to improve myself, to invest back home but 2020 just hit us by surprise. When the virus hit during the lockdown, we wiped out all our savings. So 2020 has just been a very difficult year but again it has been a year that taught us lessons. It has been a year that taught us a lot of things that we had always taken for granted. I would describe 2020 as life-changing because it changed a lot of things in my life.”
Sibanda said given a chance he would not want to experience again in his life what he went through in 2020.
“I think the restrictions were the worst for me,” he decried.
“Having to stay for a whole year without seeing family, without travelling home has been the worst experience ever for me and mind you during that period when we were locked down, a lot of things happened at home, in our neighbourhood and the community and even in the family, we lost people, we lost our loved ones and obviously as an African not being able to bury your loved one has been the worst experience of 2020.”
He however said he was not over optimistic about next year.
“It is always in human nature to expect better and from a religious point of view our faith teaches us to always expect better,” he said.
“I hope 2021 is going to be better than 2020 in a number of aspects but again I am keeping my options open. 2021 could again be a continuation of 2020 woes or even a worse version of 2020.”
Iphithule Maphosa, a member of opposition ZAPU, told CITE, 2020 has been a challenging year.
“The year 2020 started off just like all other past years, with nothing but promises of life and all its goodness,” he said.
“Besides the socio-political and economic crisis in the country, we all looked forward to the good things the year presented at its beginning, only for the corona pandemic to take all that away and replace all the hopes with misery of job losses, lost school time, anxiety and unnecessary loss of lives due to our dilapidated and dysfunctional health care system.”
Without prior warning, Maphosa said, Zimbabweans found themselves imprisoned both by the pandemic and a repressive government that took advantage of the coronavirus to further violate citizens’ rights.
“A good three quarters of the year time went by while our lives were on pause,” he bemoaned.
“What remains is a deeply impoverished society at the mercy of the virus as the government has proved beyond any doubt that they cannot revive the economy and the health sector. The whole world turned and looked inward and this left the developing nations on their own and at the mercy of their usually repressive authorities.”
Maphosa however said he looked forward to a better 2021.
“I expect a change of fortunes come 2021, not only for myself but my country, the African continent as well as the world,” he remarked.
“I expect a breakthrough in the fight against the corona pandemic the world over. I expect Zimbabwe and Africa to improve on people’s rights records and also in economic activities. I expect a concerted fight by everyone against poverty, repression and inequality.”
Swithern Chirowodza of the opposition MDC Alliance in Bulawayo said 2020 has been a bad year for him with suspected state security agents having tried to abduct him after doing the same to several members of his party in the city.
He painted a gloomy picture of the country in 2021 arguing that as long as ZANU-PF remained at the helm nothing much would change in Zimbabwe.
“I expect no change as long as the people who were in government during the time of Gukurahundi are in charge,” he said.
“This is because a leopard does not change its spots.”