By Dumisani Nyoni
Bulawayo, October 15, 2016 – AS the cash shortage persists in the country, Zimbabwe’s senior citizens find themselves bearing the brunt of the crisis.
Hundreds of pensioners have been forced to spend nights in bank queues in efforts to try and access cash from local banking halls.
The pensioners, some in their 70s and from the country’s rural areas, are also joined by many other younger Zimbabweans in queues which often see them lay cardboard boxes and plastic paper to sleep on.
In normal situations, Zimbabwean citizens above the age of 60 would quite often be allowed to jump queues in banking halls but because of the huge number of them trying to access cash at the same time, they do not enjoy the privilege.
“I came here on Wednesday hoping to withdraw my money and go back home the same day but failed as we were told that there was no money,” said 68 year-old Gogo MaNcube outside a People’s Own Savings Bank (POSB) branch in Bulawayo on Friday.
Like many of her age mates, Gogo MaNcube has found a new “home” by the entrance of the banking hall, often covering herself with plastic in a bid to avoid mosquito bites.
With her meagre pension earnings, she still finds herself also fending for her grandchildren whose parents are unemployed.
Her story is not so different from that of 71-year-old Khulumani Mlilo, a pensioner who also finds himself in the queues.
But Mlilo directs his anger at the powers that be that he accuses of authoring the current crisis.
“We are not being fairly treated in this country,” he fumed.
“How can the government allow this to happen? We worked hard for this money but now we are struggling to access it.”
Other pensioners interviewed said they will use their tough experiences outside banking halls to decide who to vote for in the 2018 elections.
Authorities say they are not responsible for the current cash crisis which they blame on businesses that have failed to bank their cash with local banks fearing the unknown.
To remedy the crisis, government plans to introduce bond notes pegged against the US dollar but citizens have strongly resisted the move fearing a return of the 2008 hyper inflationary period in which savings were lost as monetary authorities imposed bank withdrawal limits.