One cannot begin to describe the agony of being unemployed.
BY JAIROS SAUNYAMA
The mind cannot rest. One can lose sleep at night thinking about ways to put the next meal on the table.
I experienced this when my internship expired in 2011 at one of the local newspapers. It was on June 30 when I was left to face the world after six months of enjoying a regular income as an intern.
Although I earned US$130 per month, to me the paltry amount did not matter much as it just felt great to wake up every morning to go to work.
The idea of telling my neighbours that I was no longer going to work, haunted me and I found myself retreating to South Africa to nurse my wounded pride.
These are now only memories, but last week I was shocked to come across a group of people in situations that I cannot begin to compare with my joblessness.
As I walked past the National Employment Services Division, in downtown Harare at the corner of Mbuya Nehanda and Rudd Street, I almost shed tears.
The scene was pitiful. A number of youths were in deep slumber on the concrete benches, while others were busy playing a game of draft.
This group constituted of noisy individuals who were verbally expressing their prowess at playing the game. Most of these young men had worn-out shoes that had holes, leaving one or two toes protruding.
Their chapped lips bore testimony to long hours without food or water. The other men who had not dozed off were suckling at freezits [a cheap frozen drink] to quench their thirst in the searing heat.
Worn-out shirts betrayed months of leaning against the walls waiting for the prospective employers to pitch up.
The temperatures were high and men wiped off sweat using their hats while others attempted to wipe the dripping sweat with the lower ends of their t-shirts and shirts.
The shed was reeking of a heavy stench from recycled socks coupled with sweat. Patches of sweat were evident under both women and men’s armpits.
The young women who constituted a smaller group of the gathering were seated together while others were busy fiddling with their phones.
At the other side, older women were plaiting each other’s hair.
The job-seekers were all anticipating that one day God would answer their prayers and avail them with jobs.
However, there was another part of the group that was smartly dressed. This group comprised men on a mission as they were dressed to impress. Their shoes were so shiny you wouldnt see so much as a speck of dust.
I learnt that some youths visit the employment council for nearly a year before getting a job at the National Employment Services Division.
I also learnt that getting a job is not necessarily by educational qualifications, but by sheer luck as people are just picked at random by companies or individuals.
It was all sad stories as some revealed how they missed opportunities after a prospective employer arrived only a minute after they had gone to the bathroom. So if you fancy your chances, you have to be in the shed for the better part of the day.
Most youths walk from Mbare, Mufakose and other areas while those from as far as Domboshava and Norton travel twice or thrice a week.
People are recruited by manufacturing companies, public companies and individuals who need domestic help.
Some supermarkets also recruit people for temporary jobs such as off-loading groceries from trucks and cleaning premises. The smartly dressed are normally recruited as messengers and other low office jobs in and around Harare.
Departing from the unemployed people’s rendezvous, I wished them all the best, as I knew they needed it.
Unemployment statistics stand at over 80% and getting a job is as difficult as looking for a needle in a haystack.