Harare, Zimbabwe A 35-year-old boy, Samuel Chikengezha, 35, is sitting on a sofa in his living room, watching a radio program as he emphasizes how he will earn money this month.
He still has not paid for the schooling of his three children, he said – one of the economic hardships he faces because the money he is pulling as the first responder in Zimbabwe has not matched the rise in inflation for many years.
“I benefit from lending to friends and relatives to earn because the money is so small,” he told Al Jazeera.
Like many of his colleagues, Chikengezha feels that the solution to his financial problems is to leave Zimbabwe to work for higher wages abroad.
“I want to leave this country. Each of us wants to go to another country. We’m all waiting, really, “he said.
Zimbabwe’s economy has collapsed long before the epidemic, and COVID-19 has only added to the burden.
Prices are tight, foreign currency is in short supply, and Zimbabwe’s dollar purchasing power continues to decline, while annual inflation rose 60 percent at the end of last year. Productivity is low, and poverty is rising along with the cost of everything, including basic necessities such as food and fuel.
Now the economic downturn is threatening the vital functions of human beings by causing brain loss in critical areas.
Harare City Council, which runs the fire department in Zimbabwe’s capital, said the city lost 125 firefighters last year.
Council spokesman Innocent Ruwende told Al Jazeera he had left to pursue lucrative jobs abroad, especially in the Middle East Gulf States.
“Our firefighters are needed because they are well trained,” he said.
The higher the pay, the better the conditions
Chikengezha, who currently earns $ 200 a month, is attracted by a lot of money and stability.
“Admission fees [abroad] they are somewhere in the region of $ 1,300- $ 1,500, “he said.
Firefighters aren’t the only ones chasing a big check. The brain drain is also running the health sector in Zimbabwe. With the growing epidemic of increasing demand for health workers around the world, Zimbabwe lost about 2,000 medical professionals last year, according to state media. This is more than double the amount of the 2020 release.
The president of the Zimbabwe Nurses Association, Enock Dongo, told Al Jazeera that low salaries and working conditions force many nurses to seek employment outside the troubled southern African country, where nurses earn less than $ 200 a month.
“The salaries of nurses in Zimbabwe are very low. “Even compared to their Southern African counterparts, Zimbabwean nurses are the lowest paid,” Dongo told Al Jazeera.
He also said that the lack of protective equipment has made Zimbabwean nurses “extremely dangerous”.
As the number of firefighters dwindles, public outcry has erupted, blaming the first respondent for poor work.
In November, the Harare fire department was severely reprimanded for a blaze that destroyed the life of Douglas Munatsi’s savings account.
Fire Brigade Superintendent Clever Mafoti defended the action of the fire department by saying that the trees had blocked the flight of stairs to rescue Munatsi on the ninth floor.
And although Mafoti agrees that the departure of the firefighters is affecting, but emphasizes that the work is still there for the people of Harare as it counts.
“Our ability to do our jobs has been weakened or reduced but we are able to fulfill our responsibilities,” he told Al Jazeera. “We have not come to the point where we have failed to do our job and just left people’s belongings to be burned.
But Mafoti said the financial crisis was exacerbating the shortage of staff – especially with older burning vehicles.
“[The city] The council promised us more cars, but as you know, this often happens, ”he said.
At the hospital, pregnant women in Glen View and Budiriro, both in the southern city of Harare, no longer have the care of expectant caregivers in private hospitals because there are no staff nurses to provide the care.
“Specialized midwives such as midwives are leaving to look for better opportunities elsewhere,” said Harare City Council spokesperson Ruwende, adding that they are looking for friends who can donate US dollars and dollars to recruit people who are in need.
“People tend to earn US dollars and refuse the services we offer them,” he said.