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Dear world ….Letter from Zimbabwe

23.08.2019
Article from AFRIC Editorial
With living standards falling following the cataclysmic economic oblivion the country is facing, citizens watch with deep anger against the government authorities who seem unmoved by the plight of the masses. The suffering citizenry trace back into history, carefully pondering on the skilfully executed strategy by President Mnangagwa and his supporters to snatch power from the revered dictator Robert Mugabe. The general public ask in shock and disbelief, 'Did ED stage a coup to plunge the country into this ruthless poverty?' Hindsight has the advantage that foresight lacks: it is far easier to see things more clearly after they have happened. And it is hindsight which has left many shaking their heads in disbelief. As the months went by from coup (November 2017) to election (July 2018) and from election to January 2019 Zimbabwe Congress of Trade Union protest, it became clear that the ship had hardly sailed from the past.

The inflationary pressures reduce disposable incomes to paltry peanuts that leave households fighting for subsistence. They watch with anger as their salaries are overtaken by prices of food, fuel, transport, school fees and rental costs among many other demanding bills. Dependents of the working class are not sparred in this tide. Their well-being is only a function of the working-class salary’s ability to cushion them. With the majority of the employed struggling to afford themselves a decent life, dependants can only be worse than their benefactors. Cooking oil, sugar, bathing and washing soup are the very basic needs of a human being yet majority in the rural areas struggle to buy these. They don’t have an income source, they depend upon the working class.

As the mayhem gains momentum, companies are closing down as they fail to survive the torrid business environment that suffocates even the traditionally renowned economic giants. This amounts to rising unemployment in an economy where less than 15% are formally employed. The debilitating power cuts at times exceeding 18 hours a day increases business operating costs as business resort to costly electric generators as an alternative source of power. Further to that is the rising inputs costs, shortage of critical raw materials, inaccessible forex, and rising labour costs after employees demand inflation adjusted salaries that pace up with increasing living costs. All these leave industrialists confused as their going concern status is threatened by these ruthless economic whirlwinds. They have nothing to do but pass on the increased production cost to the consuming public in form of high prices.

In light of all this, pressure groups, churches and centres of higher learning are expecting answers that make sense from the government authorities. But to their shock, they are only told commonplace rhetoric far from reality. They have been hearing the same old stories since the Robert Mugabe era. They know the result; things will only get worse. While cries of agony and anguish are getting louder, top government echelons are sumptuously enjoying life buying top of the range expensive vehicles using tax payer’s money. Meanwhile the monetary and fiscal authorities are brewing a cocktail of measures purported to bring economic prosperity. Wait a moment, there is a decent title for the actions. They are called ‘austerity measures’. The Finance Minister introduces a new tax tariff: 2% across all the electronic funds transfer platforms. Before the citizens are given a moment to acclimatise themselves to the new settings, know for sure that the government is brewing another punitive shocker. In June 2019, the multicurrency system that stabilised inflation and promoted economic growth during the GNU period is abolished with immediate effect and the unpopular bond notes are forcefully installed as the sole legal tender ridiculously calling them RTGS dollars.

At work, church, school, social events and even public transport gatherings, economic and political talk takes centre stage. How can they avoid talking about something directly affecting them and threatening their livelihood? Public service facilities are deteriorating, masterminded high level corruption is rampant, public health institutions have become death traps, and roads are in a deplorable state among countless ills of a government in leadership crisis. Outrage is contagious and they unanimously agree that the president and his administration should be held accountable. Pressure groups bring the point home that none but ourselves can liberate us. With social media on their side, the cheer leaders spread the discontent across the already frustrated masses. The public is getting emotionally charged and they wish to express their anger to those in power.

The main opposition unleashed series of demonstrations against the economic hardships which seem permanent to the Southern African nation. These were planned for all major cities starting with Harare and to spread to Bulawayo, Gweru, Masving and Mutare, one after the other.

In the awake of planned demonstrations that had raised much traction across the country, the government was not happy with the planned demonstrations, justifiably so, the recent mass protests in countries like Sudan, Algeria and currently in Hong Kong are enough to cause fear.

The government shew its discomfort by mounting a strong campaign that seeks to paint the demonstration as violent even before it has happened. It remains a mystery if there was a gain for the opposition MDC by engaging in violence. Some purports that there was a risk that the regime might have resort to crude tactics such as deploying “pseudo-protestors” who will provoke incidents of violence, thereby justifying a heavy clampdown by police and even a call to the military. This is why the opposition countered by advocating for self-policing, no party regalia and ensure that any violent conduct is captured on camera or video and the culprits are identified.

Article from AFRIC Editorial

Photo Credit : google image/illustration

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