three years after Mugabe overthrow, many Zimbabweans say life’s worse | Zimbabwe
Harare, Zimbabwe – After Amos Chivedede lost his job as a sales assistant in an electrical supplies store, he initially believed that Emmerson Mnangagwa, who succeeded Zimbabwe’s longtime President Robert Mugabe in a military coup three years ago, was a godsend.
The reason? Mnangagwa’s promise of jobs and democracy.
“Today we are witnessing the beginning of a new and developing democracy,” Mnangagwa told local and foreign journalists after his return from brief exile on November 22, 2017, the day after Mugabe resigned under duress.
“The voice of the people is the voice of God,” he said at the Harare headquarters of ZANU-PF, the party that has ruled Zimbabwe since independence from Great Britain in 1980. “Nobody is more important than the other.” We are all Zimbabweans. We want to let our economy grow. We want jobs. “
The Zimbabweans were tired of Mugabe and his ruinous economic policies and optimistic.
An infectious euphoria based on the promise of change and a prosperous Zimbabwe was palpable at the time. Thousands of cheering Zimbabweans took to the streets to celebrate what they hoped would mark the beginning of a new chapter in the country’s history.
“I honestly thought the jobs he had promised us would come,” recalled Chivedede.
But for the 38-year-old father of three, reality quickly set in.
With no source of income and no prospect of a job on the horizon, Chivedede took his two-wheeled steel wagon and offered to move heavy goods for an agreed fee in Kuwadzana, a high-density suburb west of Harare.
It’s the only job he’s known since then.
“I haven’t seen any change since Mnangagwa took over. In fact, it has gotten worse, ”said Chivedede. “The economy is in trouble. No jobs were created. The industry is still grounded. “
Three years after the military coup that led to Mugabe’s departure, observers say Mnangagwa is still struggling to keep his promises.
Zimbabwe finds itself in a worsening economic crisis characterized by high inflation of nearly 700 percent, currency shortages and a devastating mix of a rapidly weakening currency and stagnating salaries.
In December last year, the World Food Program warned Zimbabwe of the worst hunger crisis in 10 years. Half of the population – 7.7 million people – were unsafe.
It is now estimated that 90 percent of Zimbabweans are either unemployed or earn a living from informal work.
“In terms of employment, the economy has declined so there is no doubt about performance [of the government] is not that good, ”said Harare-based economist Victor Bhoroma.
“The Labor Council notes that over 1.2 million formal jobs have been lost in the past 18 months due to economic decline, COVID-19 and other economic issues.”
Zimbabwe introduced the use of US currencies in 2009 after hyperinflation decimated the value of the local currency. After the controversial elections of 2013 and the end of a unity government between Mugabe and the late opposition leader Morgan Tsvangirai, the economy began to suffer from a lack of confidence.
By early 2016, a shortage of US dollars prompted authorities to introduce bonds, a substitute currency that traded largely at the level of the dollar.
At the time, the country’s economy was relatively stable, but Zimbabweans felt that Mugabe – in power since 1980 – was overwhelmed and called for change.
In November 2017, the annualized inflation was 2.97 percent after 2.24 percent in the previous month. But just a year after the takeover of Mnangagwa, inflation had hit double digits at 31.01 percent, according to Zimbabwe’s statistical office – and seven months later the wheels had basically fallen off.
Annualized inflation was last measured at 175.66 percent in June last year, after 97.85 percent in May. Inflation for September was 659.4 percent, after peaking at 837 percent in July.
Hyperinflation has decimated the value of Zimbabwean revenue.
The country’s currency, the Zimbabwean dollar, a combination of debt securities and the real-time gross settlement dollar, has depreciated against major currencies under Mnangagwa and is now $ 1: 105 on the black market and $ 1: 83 on the official market acted.
Economists blame the central bank’s creation of electronic money – a move after speculation in which bonds were traded at a discount to the dollar – responsible for the rapid devaluation of the Zimbabwean currency.
“The Zimbabwean economy performed very well from 2010 to 2014 with record investment, free movement of capital, improvement in living standards and poverty reduction, price stability, record profits and investments and other social indicators,” said Bhoroma.
Missing human rights reforms
After years of diplomatic exclusion under Mugabe, Mnangagwa committed early on to political reforms as part of a process of reintegration into the international community.
But three years later, critics say his government failed to consistently implement these pledges. They point to government records repealing only one law, Access to Information and Privacy (AIPPA), a law that hinders freedom of expression and freedom of the press.
At the same time, the Law on Public Order and Security, another law that human rights defenders describe as an attack on fundamental freedoms such as assembly and association, is still in force.
The US and the European Union have expressed dissatisfaction with the gradual reforms and accused Mnangagwa of human rights violations [File: Jekesai Njikizana/AFP]The United States and the European Union have expressed dissatisfaction with the gradual reforms and accused Mnangagwa of human rights violations. The government denies the allegations.
Mnangagwa, a staunch ZANU-PF associate, was also charged with the persistent tactics of his predecessor’s government to harass, threaten and arbitrarily arrest critics and activists.
Six people were killed in August 2018 when security forces opened fire on opposition supporters protesting against the ZANU-PF party’s attempt to steal highly competitive elections. 17 more were killed in January last year when soldiers fired at demonstrators protesting a 150 percent increase in fuel prices.
“We are worse off when it comes to human rights [under Mnangagwa]”Said Rejoice Ngwenya, a Harare-based political analyst.” We are also worse off economically. “
Others said Mnangagwa missed the opportunity to steer the country forward.
“The 2017 coup should be a turning point in our country’s history,” said political analyst Rashwheat Mukundu.
“Despite the fact that it was not a democratic process, it was hoped that Mnangagwa would understand the story of the challenges our society was facing. The history of human rights abuses, the history of economic collapse and the suffering of the majority of the people in this country, ”Mukundu added.
“The expectation was that it would make a big turn in the political responses to these challenges.”
However, government officials painted a different picture, saying Mnangagwa had managed to stabilize the local currency and that his government continued to seek to rebuild the country and include the wider family of nations.
“Economically, companies are optimistic about the foreign currency stabilization and continued pricing since July 2020 when the president intervened through legal instruments in finance and banking,” said Information Minister Monica Mutsvangwa, adding that a weekly sale of foreign currencies via the Dutch auction The system in which prices start high and then fall is “good for the public and investors’ delight”.
The authorities blame US and EU sanctions against senior ZANU-PF and government officials after the 2002 elections, which were marred by widespread electoral violence over the country’s economic problems.
In October, the member countries of the South African Development Community (SADC) celebrated today’s SADC Day against Sanctions. The African Union also called for the unconditional lifting of sanctions against Zimbabwe.
“Our regional and continental diplomacy is very much alive, as shown by the recent solidarity in calling for the sanctions to be lifted,” said Mutsvangwa.
Mutsvangwa said the Zimbabwean government placed its food security hopes on its “pfumvudza,” a climate change resilience program, arguing that reforms in the renewable energy market have shown positive results, among other things.
“Now there are no more queues and power outages disappear quickly.”
Still, three years later, many ordinary Zimbabweans say their dreams of a better life have been shattered.
“I was hoping for more jobs and a better country,” said Beulah Muchaya, a 31-year-old mother of two who sells fruit and flavored corn snacks in Harare.
“But it has gotten worse under Mnangagwa,” she added.
“Life is difficult now. These days, the number of people who have turned to sales has increased. As a result, it is difficult to make a decent living from it. “