Emmerson Mnangagwa promised a ‘Zimbabwe you want’ but has failed to deliver

Source: Emmerson Mnangagwa promised a ‘Zimbabwe you want’ but has failed to deliver | World News | Sky News

ZANU-PF offered “visionary and mature leadership” but, with soaring unemployment and inflation, there is little sign of it.

Zimbabwe: Where asking for a pay rise is dangerous

Last year, during Zimbabwe’s national elections, the ruling party erected dozens of banners all over the country, emblazoned with lofty promises and a giant photo of the man who won that contest, Emmerson Mnangagwa.

Vote ZANU-PF, they proclaimed, for “visionary and mature leadership”. Vote Mnangagwa for, “affordable, quality, healthcare guaranteed”, and “jobs, jobs, jobs”. Trust us, implored the billboards, for “delivering the Zimbabwe you want”.

The Zimbabwe you want.

It is a good thing they have taken down those banners because the country is a mess. Unemployment is pushing 90%, inflation has hit 100%, electricity blackouts last for days at a time and public services have virtually collapsed.

Public services in Zimbabwe have virtually collapsed
Public services in Zimbabwe have virtually collapsed

During our visit, we met city residents scavenging for firewood in the countryside and health workers who could not source paracetamol. The deterioration of the local currency means civil servants such as teachers and nurses are earning 80p a day.

President Mnangagwa and his ministers have shown themselves to be little better than the clique that surrounded long-time dictator Robert Mugabe – the 95-year-old who was kicked out of office by his generals in November, 2017.

On Monday, Mnangagwa reintroduced the notorious Zimbabwe Dollar, last used in 2009 when hyperinflation meant that Z$35 quadrillion was required to purchase US$1.

His administration has also banned foreign currency (such as the US dollar) in a move described as “madness” by Opposition Movement for Democratic Change (MDC) treasury spokesman, David Coltart.

Mr Coltart said: “The government has compounded an already chaotic economic situation. Ironically, the re-dollarisation process had brought some stability but that has all been thrown out the window.”

The Zimbabwe you want.

Civil servants are earning just 80p a day
Civil servants are earning just 80p a day

Desperation and anger simmers beneath the surface in Zimbabwe. Nobody seems to think the current situation can go on.

It is because the people are so unhappy that the government has ruthlessly clamped down on dissent. Civil rights leaders, activists, lawyers and union representatives have been targeted with beating, abductions and detentions.

The NGO Zimbabwe Lawyers For Human Rights told Sky News that more than a thousand community leaders and ordinary citizens have been arrested on spurious charges, such as “subversion of the state”, in the past six months.

Obert Masaraure, who runs the Rural Teachers of Zimbabwe Union, was not summoned to court, however. Instead, eight men wearing masks and carrying machine-guns broke into his house and dragged him into the bush.

Obert Masaraure was attacked by eight masked men
Obert Masaraure was attacked by eight masked men

He was stripped naked and beaten with rubber straps because he had asked for an increase in pay. “We had a petition to be paid in US dollars and we declared a work (stay away) in June. The (attackers) shouted at me: ‘why are you asking these teachers not to go to work?'”

I asked him: “Are you scared?”

“I don’t want to lie to you, I am scared, I am human… for them to be harassing my family, to be harassing my kids. It is the lowest level of madness we can get in a country. The state is supposed to be protecting rights and our freedoms.”

We spoke on the roadside, in the middle of night, inside a passenger van and he was so badly beaten that he had trouble walking.

The Zimbabwe you want.

The party of power has proven one simple thing. ZANU-PF cannot reform itself. President Mnangagwa cannot introduce the sort of radical changes – to the economy and to society – without damaging the entrenched interests of party members.

Instead, his administration will live from day-to-day, with a baton in its hand, ready to strike at its critics.

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