IT’S Christmas in a few days time, yet the usual mood and spirit associated with the day is in short supply.
No prize for guessing who stole the Christmas spirit, if you are a Zimbabwean that is.
The festive is a time for people to celebrate with family, relatives and friends and toast to surviving the long year.
Yet Zimbabweans will find little to celebrate with the economy on a free fall and basic commodities unavailable or beyond the reach of ordinary citizens.
For those without family members or relatives in the diaspora to send them groceries, they will have to contend with the astronomical prices of basic goods in local supermarkets.
CITE conducted a survey at some leading supermarkets in Bulawayo to check on the prices of basic commodities that often make it to the Christmas shopping list.
For a ‘special’ breakfast on Christmas morning, some usually indulge in high tea, bread with butter, baked beans, eggs and sausages.
But the basic 500 grams of butter is going for as much as $4.29 while a can of baked beans is $2.59 and a dozen of eggs costs $4.19. How much money would an extended family need to in order to buy and feed everyone?
Those who prefer cereal as part of their breakfast,a box of Cerevita costs $5, without even adding additives such as milk or honey.
For a decent, enjoyable Christmas lunch meal, a fulfilling meal would usually feature starch and proteins that will score high on a family’s satiety index.
But a 2kg packet of rice – depending on the brand – ranges from $6.29 to $8.49 while a 5kg packet costs between from $15. 59 to $21.59.
To serve roast, baked, fried potatoes, consumers have to pay $12 to $15 for one sack of potatoes sold either at a supermarket or vegetable market while an imported bottle of 250 grams of mayonnaise is almost $10.
A kilogramme of beef meat such as a super steak, ranges from $10.99 to $12.99.
Some butcheries are now charging in US dollars with a kilogramme of super steak at $3.45, super blade – $2.95 and the cheapest cut of stewing meat – $2.65. Chicken cutlets are priced $10 for a kg.
Those who think sugar beans are a cheaper option than meat have to buy one 500 grams packet at $2.29.
Dessert lovers have to fork out $4.19 for a 150 grams packet of jelly while cake lovers have to part with $14.50 or $21.50 for a chocolate flavoured one, and these are on special, meaning the price can be more.
Consumers said they could no longer buy in bulk due to steep prices and other restrictions to curb hoarding. For instance those who used to buy sugar in bulk in order to send to their families in rural areas can only buy five units of sugar.
Since Christmas is about merrymaking, people gather around to listen to latest hit songs and some drink a variety of beer from Castle Lagers to spirits and Chibuku. But now supermarkets have restricted customers to four beers or four units.
Those who prefer 100 percent imported fruit juice have to pay $4.99 to $6.29 for one carton depending on preferred brand.
Some shoppers said they would not splurge on luxurious food as they used to instead will stick to the basics since prices were now too high for their budgets.
“We will cook our everyday meals, nothing over the top, as I have to think about school fees for next year. My children will be disappointed but nothing I can do, it is the economy,” said a shopper who identified herself as MaNkomo.
MaNkomo even laughed off the price of popcorn which was almost $3 for one packet.
Some male shoppers who were looking for beer at one supermarket, marveled to each other as to how they would enjoy Christmas, as customers were restricted to four beers.
“You think it is funny but it is not. As friends we want to enjoy ourselves and drink but now we are told to control our intake,” said Ngqabutho Dube.
His friend concurred and added the economy was in shambles and authorities had to act.
“We do laugh and joke as that has become who we are in Zimbabwe but no, we are fed up with this situation. People will be forced to make do with what they can scramble up. This situation is not normal as we can’t even enjoy the holiday, thinking about this and that,” bemoaned Chester Nguwo.
Despite the harsh economic conditions in the country, Zimbabweans are known for making things happen and will not let the economy spoil the fun.
Go on and be merry this Christmas!
Ho! Ho! Ho!