“I used to work for the Zimbabwe National Railways as an engineer. When I retired in 2006, my pension and other benefits were eroded by inflation. I have sold everything which I acquired during my working days in order for me to survive,” said a white beggar who only identified himself as Joe.
His only worldly wealth is a black bag which contains a blanket, bottles of cheap spirits and a few cigarettes. His wife died 20 years ago and he survives mainly by scrounging leftovers from litter bins.
Another beggar who has set up his base at the corner of Leopold Takawira and Robert Mugabe Streets said life became unbearable for him in 2007 when his grandfather’s farm in Shangani, where he lived, was taken by war veterans.
“My grandparents now stay at an old people’s home in Harare. Because of my age I cannot stay there. Harvest House church is assisting me with food and clothes but I sleep here,” he said, pointing to a sleeping bag on the pavement. Most of the destitutes drown their sorrows in alcohol.
Last year the Commercial Farmers Union said many former commercial farmers had fallen on hard times. At one point a former commercial farmer stormed into the union’s offices threatening to shoot himself and his wife because life had become unbearable.
The organisation assists former commercial farmers with monthly boxes of groceries.Post published in: News