The ever-rising cost of living in the country has become a cause for concern for most people in Bulawayo with meagre incomes getting eroded by inflation.
Prices of basic commodities such as maize meal, sugar cooking oil, bread, to mention but a few have not been stable since the beginning of the year.
Professionals and non-professionals alike, are equally affected, with the local currency continuing to lose value against the United States dollar.
The January country-wide shutdown, which some people thought would help address this situation, appears to have served no purpose at all, with the situation in the country has worsened.
Doctors at all major hospitals across the country have since downed tools demanding salary increment and better conditions of service.
Lecturers at the National University of Science and Technology are also on industrial action.
The opposition Movement for Democratic Change, which will hold its anniversary on September 28, has vowed to embark on more future protests over the government’s failure to address the deteriorating economic conditions.
Priston Levison, a Bulawayo resident, told CITE what is happening in the country was not what Zimbabweans looked forward to in the ‘new dispensation.’
“It seems the government is ignoring the situation, yet masses are suffering,” said Levison, adding price hikes had become a worrying trend.
“Just yesterday I met a lady who was literally running into town to go and buy some groceries before the next price increment.”
He said the situation had become so dire with no signs of improvement.
“I don’t see this ending anytime soon. People are forced to wait hours for Zupco buses because they cannot afford kombis,” he said.
Levison said the difficulties faced by residents had led to an increase in crime, with people stealing basics such as vegetables in order to have a meal.
“We would rather use the rand instead of bond notes. If you go to Bulilima and Mangwe people are using the rand and they are living better lives than people in urban areas,” he suggested that as a solution.
He said he did not foresee demonstrations changing anything on the ground.
“Strikes are not the solution. Robots were destroyed in January and have not been fixed to date. I, therefore, consider strikes as a setback. The government has to act,” said Levison.
Nozibusiso Sivalo said the situation had become unbearable.
“The cost of living is ridiculously high for any medium income-earning individual. Making it very difficult to do household budgets for basic things like bread, fuel, milk which rise almost weekly,” she said.
“It is frustrating for parents and also now affecting children’s nutrition where meals have to be compromised.
It is very difficult to survive under these hardships as even civil servants cannot afford to buy basics. Women and children are affected as well as things like sanitary wear are no longer affordable.”
Sivalo said it was unfortunate that residents now must cut down on meals, travel and other expenses to survive.
Ntando Dumani, a social commentator said the rising cost of living had reduced citizens to beggars.
“It (the rising cost of living) is biting everyone, the employed and the unemployed,” he said.
“For the employed, the rise in the cost of living without the commensurate rise in salaries and wages means that workers are now subsidising companies by giving them free labour while earning a living from extra activities like vending and informal trading. It’s a challenge for everyone, its biting and its very painful.”
Dumani said the shooting of prices was a revelation of the extent of the rot that Zimbabwe has been subjected to since the introduction of bond coins and notes.
“I don’t see any light at the end of the tunnel, if there is any light it’s an oncoming train and that’s disastrous. I don’t see this ending anytime soon because we are not producing, the only commodity that we are selling right now is money,” he said.
“When money becomes a commodity then we have a long way to go. When we get to a point where there is money but no production to balance it up then the see-saw will always tip the scales into hyperinflation.”
Dumani said the solution to problems being experienced is a sharp policy shift from the current trajectory towards genuinely pro-poor policies.
He challenged the government to listen to people’s concerns and address them as a matter of urgency.