Sunday, 23 September 2018

'Things Are Getting Worse': Economic Collapse Looms Again In Zimbabwe

Locals say conditions have deteriorated since July’s contentious election, as world powers keep their distance.

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.
'Things Are Getting Worse': Economic Collapse Looms Again In Zimbabwe
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.

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