Surviving unemployment by hook and crook

Unlike most of his colleagues who have earned for themselves the nicknames ‘permanent home defenders’ since they were laid off in October 2013, Gregory Murwira*, still wakes up at 5:30 am and prepares to go to work.

ZCTU says in 2013 almost 10,000 people lost their jobs while over 75 companies closed.
ZCTU says in 2013 almost 10,000 people lost their jobs while over 75 companies closed.

Murwira, 34, a father of three girls, said it would be suicide for him to let his landlord know that he is unemployed.

“My children still assume that I am working and it is better that way. The most important thing is to be able to put food on the table and ensure that my children’s school fees and the rent is paid on time,” he said.

With the enthusiasm of a person whose income is guaranteed, Murwira boards a kombi daily from Mbare to the city centre to engage in what he knows best: soccer betting.

“I do not win every day. There are days when I have walked out of the soccer shop empty handed, but it is part of life,” says this jack of all trades whose experience in Khayelitsha, Cape Town in 2007 taught him that home is best despite the circumstances. Murwira said he would rather struggle to make ends meet in Zimbabwe than seek refuge in South Africa.


The Zimbabwe Congress of Trade Union (ZCTU) last year revealed that over 9,617 people lost their jobs while over 75 companies closed. This trend is expected to continue as the country’s economy continues to shrink.

A July 2013 National Social Security Authority (NSSA) Harare Regional Employer Closures and Registrations Report for the period July 2011 to July 2013, reported that 711 companies in Harare closed down, leaving 8,336 individuals jobless.

Many companies have downsized over the past few years, with companies such as Dairiboard, PG Industries, Zimplats, Cairns and Olivine Industries retrenching their workers.

Tough times

Confederation of Zimbabwe Industries President Charles Msipa said Zimbabweans should brace for tough times ahead as more companies were likely to close.

“The sad truth is that more companies are going to close and this means that we are going to see an increase in the number of people engaged in the informal sector,” said Msipa.

He said the challenge for the government was that the economy could not rely on the informal sector because harnessing the contribution of that sector into the mainstream economy was very difficult.

“The informal sector is also going to take a knock from the current trend where the country is witnessing increased company closures. This is because the informal sector depends on the formal sector for certain goods and services,” he said.

“People want to survive and there is need for government to invest in proper infrastructure and policies that promote the growth and development of those in the informal sector. Entrepreneurs in the informal sector need financial services including capital, expertise from financial institutions such as banks. Only then can they be expected to start paying taxes.”

Unfree economy

The 2014 Index of Economic Freedom, an annual index and ranking created by The Heritage Foundation and The Wall Street Journal in 1995 to measure the economic freedom of 186 countries based on trade freedom, business freedom, investment freedom, and property rights, rated Zimbabwe’s economy as one of the world’s most unfree economies.

The institution recognises that economic freedom is a crucial component of liberty as it empowers people to work, produce, consume, own, trade, and invest according to their personal choices.

However, over the 20-year history of the Index, Zimbabwe’s economic freedom deteriorated by 13 points, the fourth worst score drop.

“Significant declines in seven of the 10 economic freedoms include 40-point drops in scores for property rights and investment freedom,” reads the report. “Regulatory efficiency greatly diminished, as indicated by considerable score declines in business freedom and labour freedom.”

Zimbabwe’s economy remains characterised by economic instability and policy volatility. The impact of years of hyperinflation greatly crippled the country’s economic performance.

Analysts attribute failure by the Zimbabwean government to make headway in revitalising the economy to policies such as the indigenisation and economic empowerment act, which they say scares away investors and does not promote foreign direct investment. *Not his real name

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