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Zimbabwe’s crackdown borders on the abuse of human rights

10.02.2019
Article from AFRIC Editorial
There has been tensions simmering in Zimbabwe even prior to the election of Emmerson Mnagagwa as President in 2017. But things appear to have taken a turn for the worst with the Southern African country facing major economic challenges, a burden of unemployment, hyperinflation, drought in some parts of the country but what appears to be a stinging point is the crackdown on anti-government voices within the country. Tethering

WHO IS RESPONSIBLE FOR THE CRACKDOWN? 

In a move that shocked Zimbabwean citizens and outside nations, president Mnangagwa announced a 150% increase on the fuel price, and almost sparked pandemonium. But it was the government’s reaction that received great condemnation. The main opposition Movement for Democratic Change (MDC) described the crackdown on civilians as worse than anything under former president Robert Mugabe.

The violent crackdown saw up to 12 people being killed and hundreds wounded in protests against the unilateral fuel price hikes. Security forces instigated a crackdown to crush the protests in a move condemned by human rights groups who accused security forces of employing “systematic torture”.

Analysts, NGO’s and civil rights movements in and around Zimbabwe have accused Mnagagwa of violating human rights by allowing the crackdown on protestors to continue, although the president had committed to investigating spates of violence that was aired on television and has ordered the arrest of those responsible for perpetrating the violence.

For Zimbabwean’s Mnagagwa ascension to power signaled a change of power that promised to return the country to being Africa’s breadbasket, campaign for sanctions to be lifted and look for investment for the ailing economy in an effort to create jobs and improve the lives of ordinary Zimbabweans. But none of these are yet to materialize and it appears as though things have become worse than under the previous regime.

“The person we hold responsible is none other than Mr. Mnangagwa who announced a 150 percent increase in fuel prices without any due notice, without any justification. He is the one who instigated the citizens’ response,” said MDC leader Nelson Chamisa.

ZIMBABWE URGED TO ADOPT THE SOUTH AFRICAN RAND

Back in 2009 Zimbabwe announced that it would abandon its own currency in exchange of a system that favoured the US Dollar but equally accepting currencies from its neighboring countries. But former finance minister in Zimbabwe Tendai Biti has implored Mnangagwa’s administration to adopt the South African Rand as its currency.

A foreign-exchange shortage has helped drive the current economic crisis which has led to destabilizing anti-government protests across the country following a massive increase in petrol prices. The former finance minister has backed the move to bring greater integration into the regional market for the struggling Zimbabwe economy.

According to Biti, the move would not only bring greater integration for the regional market but would also strengthen trade in the Southern part of the continent. It would also foist a much needed discipline on the Zimbabwean economy.

The current financial system in Zimbabwe is complicated and at present the central bank prints quasi-greenbacks termed bond notes and uses Real Time Gross Settlement, a system that allows the transfer of large sums commonly used in India. The complexity of the financial system in Zimbabwe has left many wondering where they stand financially albeit the government giving assurance that all currencies tethered to the American Dollar.

WHERE TO FOR ZIMBABWE AND ZIMBABWEANS?

Zimbabwe is a sovereign country and should be allowed to find solutions to the challenges facing the country, and thus, that sovereignty should be respected by other countries. This, though doesn’t mean that world should fold its arms and watch as Zimbabweans struggle to make ends meet and struggle with basic necessities.

Firstly the regional body, the Southern African Development Community, that held a meeting of heads of state recently, should come up with concrete measures that seeks to redress the challenge in Zimbabwe and offer the country as suggestions of how the country can change its fortunes. These suggestions should be accompanied with the relevant resources to ensure that the process doesn’t take time to implement.

Secondly, neighboring countries such as South Africa, Mozambique, Zambia and others should be in a position to assist Zimbabweans when they indicate a need of any sort. Zimbabwean challenges are not theirs alone because when Zimbabweans look for refuge they tend to jump borders and seek refuge in these neighboring countries but apart from that, the success of Zimbabwe will indicate positive traction for the region.

And lastly, there needs to be strong opposition in Zimbabwe to ensure that they keep those in power in check and on their toes. A strong opposition would also make life a little less comfortable to the current regime and would ensure that they deliver on their promises.

On the economy, Zimbabwe needs several things in order to revive the ailing economy. The country needs a cash injection, dump damaging policies and stamp out corruption, negotiate with foreign lenders and investors, create conditions to reduce unemployment and entice the diaspora to return, and ultimately create its own currency for sustainability and longevity.

Article from AFRIC Editorial

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