‘Things are getting worse': economic collapse looms again in Zimbabwe

Introduction — Sept 23, 2018

Life for the average black Zimbabwean is now probably worse than it was before "liberation" from white minority rule. Click to enlarge

Life for the average black Zimbabwean is now probably worse than it was before “liberation” from white minority rule. Click to enlarge

Once upon a time the Western media hailed the end of the White minority rule in the former Rhodesia as a “liberation”, of sorts. Like all fairy tales though it was pure fantasy and the reality under President Mugabe quickly turned out to be far worse than the reviled white minority rule.
It has been estimated that tens of thousands were murdered by Mugabe’s enforcers during his time in power, while many more were disfigured and tortured.
Moreover, along with the brutality and torture the economy collapsed, as did the country’s once bountiful agricultural sector.
That the former Rhodesia was a “breadbasket” is no media created myth. I saw it with my own eyes at the height of the “liberation” war. Even though the then Rhodesia was a country at war its fields were almost literally bursting with bountiful crops of grain, fruit and maize while its large herds of beef cattle were something to behold.
So-called “liberation” and the redistribution of wealth that came with it, mainly to Mugabe’s friends and cronies, changed that. So that the country that had once been seen as Africa’s breadbasket soon became dependent on international aid handouts.
Unfortunately, Mugabe’s ousting doesn’t seem to have improved things. If anything the situation in Zimbabwe appears to be going from bad to worse.
Finally, it should be noted that I’m not some “White supremacist”. Far from it, I come from a mixed-race family but the whole supremacist argument is merely a ruse to smear the old White Rhodesians as “racist”. When in fact those old “White racists” did far more for Black Rhodesians/Zimbabweans than Mugabe and his cronies ever did.
Although, of course, few in the corporate media will say as much.
Instead of “White minority rule” Zimbabwe is now governed by a Black elite who exploit their fellow Blacks far more ruthlessly than the old White Rhodesians. Sure, some of those old White Rhodesians were indeed racist but that pales into insignificance when compared to the crimes carried out by Zimbabwe’s current Black elite. Ed.

‘Things are getting worse': economic collapse looms again in Zimbabwe

Jason Burke — The Guardian Sept 23, 2018

Zimbabwe faces a deepening economic crisis as hopes fade of a new wave of international investment and aid following historic elections in July.

The poll, the first after the military takeover that led to the ousting of Robert Mugabe, was won by the ageing autocrat’s former righthand man, Emmerson Mnangagwa.

Mnangagwa’s campaign slogan was “Zimbabwe is open for business”, but people in the former British colony say conditions have deteriorated since the election.

Majory Manjoro, a part-time currency dealer in Harare, said life had become unbearable. “Things are getting worse. Everything goes up [in price]. Those in authority need to make sure things get better,” Manjoro, 33, said.

Although the elections in July did not see the systematic violence of those under Mugabe, alleged irregularities during the count and violent repression following the vote have resulted in only lukewarm support for Mnangagwa and the ruling Zanu-PF party from major international powers.

Armed police surround a protester in Harare, Zimbabwe on Monday, July, 4, 2016. Click to enlarge

Armed police surround a protester in Harare, Zimbabwe on Monday, July, 4, 2016. Click to enlarge

The shooting by soldiers of six unarmed civilians in Harare during opposition protests has made endorsement of the new government difficult, officials privately admit.

Catriona Laing, the outgoing British ambassador, told local reporters the UK was concerned by the 1 August shootings and hoped to see political reform.

This has made the prospects of the multibillion-dollar financial package needed to stave off economic collapse unlikely, which has, in turn, discouraged private investors.

Mnangagwa faces very significant challenges. The country ran up massive debts during Mugabe’s 37-year rule which need to be repaid or rescheduled. Government revenues barely pay the wages of large numbers of public sector workers.

Few people in Zimbabwe have jobs, and infrastructure is crumbling.

At least 30 people have died in a cholera outbreak caused by sewage leaking from broken pipes into drinking water in Harare.

The UN has said that more than a million people need food aid, with more expected to need help if predictions of droughts later this year and in 2019 prove correct.

In Kuwadzana, a poor suburb in Harare, 35-year-old Blessing Mahwata said her business was falling apart due to rising prices.

“This is the toughest time I’m going through. Every time I go back to my suppliers the prices go up and it’s unsustainable,” said Mahwata, who feeds and clothes three children on her earnings as a peanut butter dealer and a part-time domestic worker.

Zimbabwe abandoned its own currency amid runaway inflation nine years ago and now uses US dollars and South African rands, supplemented by bond notes printed by the central bank which command little confidence.

Many commodities are in short supply.


Zimbabwe owes at least $18bn to major international lenders, with arrears of around $1.8bn making it hard to obtain further loans.

There are also 141 entities and individuals in Zimbabwe, including Mnangagwa and Mugabe, currently under US sanctions.

Manisha Singh, the US assistant secretary of state for economic and business affairs, told a House of Representatives hearing earlier this month that the new government has to demonstrate it is “changing its ways” before these can be lifted.

“Our pressure on Zimbabwe remains in place. We are trying to use this pressure to leverage political and economic reforms, human rights observations … We want to see fundamental changes in Zimbabwe and only then will we resume normal relations with them,” Singh said.

China has proved unwilling to provide the immediate funds needed by Zimbabwe, citing concerns over the country’s ability to repay existing unpaid debts.

Mnangagwa recently named Mthuli Ncube, a former chief economist at the African Development Bank and a lecturer in finance at the London School of Economics, as finance minister.

The choice has been welcomed by observers.

Ncube has spoken of the need for radical reforms. Last week, he said at least $15m set aside to buy cars for ministers and parliamentarians would instead be used to fight the cholera outbreak.

In recent days, the price of bread has increased by 10%, owing to an acute shortage of wheat, while fuel prices have also risen.

Authorities have deployed riot police to disperse stallholders in Harare accused of worsening the cholera outbreak by selling contaminated fruit and vegetables.

The vendors have vowed not to move.

“I cannot go off the streets but I fear that something bad might happen to me. They have threatened us countless times but I have no choice … the streets are our home,” said Tafadzwa Sakwe, an electrician who was laid off five years ago and has polished shoes since.

“The economy is deteriorating and prices are rising every day. On a good day, I make US$13. I rent a one-roomed apartment in Chitungwiza with my wife and two children. It’s not enough,” he said.

Many in Harare say they are angry that life has not improved since the fall of Mugabe.

“Most Zimbabweans who marched against Mugabe never thought we could be in a worse state, a year later,” said Bright Ndebele, a 27 -year-old unemployed graduate.

“We wanted Mugabe gone so that we can have a better future. This is far below our expectations,” he said.


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