By Criswell Chisango
Karoi, December 24, 2013-A last minute shopping rush by some Zimbabweans ahead of this year’s Christmas festivities revived their hope as they wore brave faces burying the tough times characterized by the cash crunch and a bleak year following the July elections that resulted in economical meltdown managed by a seemingly clueless administration if the recent budget statement is anything to go by.
In this farming town, situated about 204 kilometers north-west of Harare, some shoppers were locked in chain stores as they battled to buy groceries late on Tuesday.
Hundreds of shoppers could not travel after they failed to buy their needs on time.
‘’I have been here since mid-morning and the queue seems not to be moving at all. Many people are still buying and will miss transport to go to their rural areas’’ said Jeremiah Mutemapasi of Mjinga who had travelled to buy groceries here.
Some Karoi shop operators interviewed by Radio VOP said this year’s Christmas was different from the last year as cash crunch was only subdued at the eleventh hour.
‘’The issue of cash has affected our sales in the past six months but today is different story as many people are still coming to buy. We hope to work throughout the night as people are buying groceries’’ said a till operator identified as Norman at TM Karoi branch.
However, some commuters complained of unwarranted fare hikes targeting mainly rural travelers who were caught off guard despite this being a common trend during public holidays.
‘’We had planned to go to rural areas in Gache Kache as a family but the price hike will see us leaving behind two of my children’’ said Tapiwa Mudimu aged 55 years.
It used to cost $15.00 per head but has doubled to $25 affecting commuter budgets, he added.
‘’I had not budgeted for that much for transport and this is affecting us negatively’’ said Mudimu.
Most commuters said they preferred to travel to the rural areas as town life is expensive during the festive season.
The majority of them were travelling to Hurungwe rural outskirts.
‘’I am comfortable in travelling in the rural areas as it is less expensive and is the only time we can afford to meet for family gatherings and feasting’’ said Dennis Magara of Kazangarare.
However in Kadoma town, named ‘’City of Gold’’ along the Harare-Bulawayo main road there is no glitter as panners complained that the poor rains affected their operations.
‘’We used to make a lot of cash so much that we could spend lavishly during Xmas but this year it’s different as the gold is hard to find thus affecting our financial targets. This year there is no joy for us’’ said a panner who identified himself as Stanley Maketa to Radio VOP.
In Chinhoyi town about 115 kilometers north-west of Harare some shoppers were seen making last minute shopping.
‘’I failed to access money from Allied Bank but I got credit so that I can buy groceries just to see that kids can get something different for Christmas’’ explained Danai Macheka of the town well known for its caves and a 1966 liberation war battle and a failed diesel exploration expedition.
‘’There is little money for my family to talk of new clothes. I hope next year will be different for us as this year was disastrous financially’’ added Richard Kadiki a Karoi air time vendor.