The lockdown being a preventive measure to the spread of Covid – 19, it has brought its own downsides to Zimbabwe’s disadvantaged communities especially the low-income self-employed people in its communities. Operating from hand to mouth on normal days outside the lockdown, putting food on the table has since become difficult for Aaron Zikawa, s scrap collector who stays in Gweru’s high-density suburb of Mkoba village.
“Life has never been smooth, but the lockdown has made the situation worse,” a visibly low Zikawa said. Zimbabwe’s economy has been struggling since the turn of the millennium. Corruption has been fingered as causation to the economy’s failure. Zimbabwe’s Poverty Datum Line standing at $5 293 as of February 2020, most Zimbabweans in public and private sector are earning less that the Total Consumption Poverty Line.
All this emerges amid raised hopes of an economic turnaround after the ouster of the country’s late long serving President Robert Mugabe, to no avail. “My job requires me to be out, at dumpsites, fetching scrap and with this lockdown all that can’t be done. The moment I stop fetching scrap simply translates to me not making money not for myself only but other beneficiaries I support from the little I get,” Zikawa added.
Living in a world of many other pandemics, HIV/ Aids in the picture, many Zimbabweans are taking care of their deceased relative’s extended families and if not, looking after those who took custodianship of them when they lost their loved ones while growing up.
Not only death has separated families but also a high number of divorces that have seen children grow from one side of the family.
Chronic diseases emerging with age and in some cases, pressures associated on coping with the hard-living conditions are yet another burden whose expenses to bread winners cannot be ignored.
“I sell my scrap to a local firm. Income isn’t much as only one company buys this in Gweru meaning there is no competition. Money earned also takes care of my grandmother who looked after me since childhood after my mother passed on.
“I feel bad because I can’t reach out to her because of this lockdown besides having no money. She is dear to my heart.
“My heart bleeds because am sure she is now out of supplies, and how she is surviving considering her age I don’t even know. The feeling of being an orphan has even increased through distancing created from close by relatives.,” narrated Zikawa.
Zikawa, has been formerly employed but says employment in Zimbabwe has many labor injustices that pushed him, and many others, out of the industry.
“I have worked with a Chinese company before but there were a lot of labor injustices that will push you out one way or the other. These include being on contract forever as they never offer you permanent employment and also issues pertaining safety and remuneration.
“Viable companies that used to have good working conditions have since closed down and some have simply scaled down number of employees due to the ailing economy but if opened, I wish to have a stable job and take care of my family,” he further said.