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Monday, June 20, 2011

The worst job in the world?


What is the worst job in the world? Just how low would you go to earn money?

During the worst of the economic crisis in Zimbabwe, it would break my heart to hear stories of teachers or doctors who were working as street cleaners or janitors in South Africa. They had made a decision to work in menial jobs away from home because these jobs paid more.

The situation has somewhat improved but many educated Zimbabweans continue to work in jobs they are overqualified for in South Africa and the United Kingdom.

They are not alone.

The higher rates of unemployment across the world, from the United States to Dubai to Harare, are forcing some educated professionals to swallow their pride and get their hands dirty.

For some, that means taking any job to get by. For others, it just means taking a pay cut or working two jobs.

For many Zimbabweans any job is a good job. At the height of the economic crisis the official employment rate in the formal economy was around 6%, according to some reports. Most people earned money in the informal economy ­by hawking, trading or bartering.

It is no surprise, then, that when a local newspaper, Newsday, reminded readers that the post of “hangman” at Chikurubi Maximum Security Prison was still vacant it said it was inundated with queries from readers interested in the job. The previous hangman reportedly quit in 2005.

When I was in Zimbabwe recently, I read Newsday readers’ responses with interest. One said: “I read the story of a hangman’s job in your paper, please help me I really need that job. How do I apply?”

Another “desperate job seeker” wrote: “Why not take up the job? It’s just a job like any other. There is no difference even with a soldier, as I will simply be exercising my duties.”

Others asked for more details on what qualifications were needed to be a hangman.

The paper wrote that a job description for the post of Chikurubi prison hangman included, “dexterity, ability to tie a knot, hard heart and anyone prone to mercy or hesitation need not apply.”

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