STAFF WRITER 23 January 2019
HARARE – President Emmerson Mnangagwa’s arrival from his Eurasian sojourn
must signal the start of serious interventions to solve the country’s
The majority of urban Zimbabweans and others resident in other parts of
the country heeded the Zimbabwe Congress of Trade Unions call to stay away
from work from Monday through to Wednesday last week in protest over fuel
price hikes that led to diesel eventually retailing at $3,11 and petrol
$3,31 per litre.
The move led to a steep rise in commuter and long-distance bus fares, with
prospects of rises in other commodity prices becoming fairly obvious.
Of concern, however, was the mayhem that characterised the protests, in
the form of lawlessness on the one hand as well as the State’s
heavy-handed response to violence on the other.
The proverb “A stitch in time saves nine” could never have been more
relevant. Authorities watched problems deteriorating to scary levels
without proffering prompt solutions, leaving citizens trying different
means of voicing their concern – staying away from work.
The response of the State to the violence was not surprising since they
chose to brush the issues aside, claiming it was in fact civil society,
the opposition and some foreign nations’ ploy to eventually unseat the
It remains government’s right to shape its opinions on such developments
but solving the teething problems – a national imperative now – has become
even more urgent.
The president’s work is already cut out for him. He has to deal with the
State-sponsored violence that reminded the nation of the not-so-distant
August 1 killings, following last year’s harmonised elections Mnangagwa
won by a razor-thin margin over MDC Alliance leader Nelson Chamisa.
Violence against unarmed civilians should never have a place in
democracies. Of course, we will not – by condemning acts of
State-sponsored violence against ordinary people – condone the looting and
lawlessness witnessed during the same period.
While looting, the destruction of property and attacks on other citizens –
which might have been the work of opportunists who took advantage of the
chaos – taints the perceived objectives of the protesters, it is still
imperative that Mnangagwa attends to the violence and economic problems
It is heartening that he has already called for national dialogue with the
opposition, churches and civil society, something that should have
happened way back.