Tendai Kamhungira 18 November 2018
HARARE – The coup d’etat that ousted long-ruling despot Robert Mugabe last
November, was a watershed moment in both the history of Zimbabwe and
The post-coup leader Emmerson Mnangagwa was held out by many as the best
hope to spearhead an economic recovery predicated on re-engagement with
international creditors and a package of reform that would instil a
measure of much-needed confidence.
Yet evidence that he would or could deliver on this front is not
persuasive, the International Crisis Group (ICG) has said.
One year after the coup, the country is convulsed with soaring crime,
skyrocketing prices and a roaring forex black market trade.
Economists and analysts are scratching their heads how a promising
democracy could have imploded like this, just four months after an
How did post-Mugabe Zimbabwe go from a fairly stable economy in southern
Africa to the brink of social and financial ruin?
Economic conditions have visibly deteriorated over the last few months,
the ICG said. The volume of physical money circulating in both the formal
and informal economy has contracted sharply.
Inflationary pressures exacerbated by this liquidity crisis have driven up
the cost of living, leading to a crash in the purchasing power of salaries
paid into bank accounts. Zimbabwe is once again heading back into
Amid an economic downturn, outrage against Mnangagwa’s policies has
swelled, with the opposition and trade unions mulling protests that they
are threatening will overwhelm the presidential palace.
Mnangagwa has warned the agitators against abusing the freedoms he has
ushered in by bringing instability.
He has said his austerity measures will stabilise the economy soon, and
called patience and pain tolerance.
He has also unfurled an anti-corruption war on the elites that is turning
out to carry risks.
In a hard-hitting analysis focusing on one year after Mugabe, Tendai Biti,
who is the MDC deputy national chairperson, said hope is slowly fading
away, as the economy continues to tank.
“Indeed, on the 18th of November 2017, thousands of Zimbabwe from all
walks of life marched in various cities across the country demanding
change and a demise of the old order.
“Sadly, Wananchi, a year later, the dreams and aspirations of the
thousands of masses who marched on a sunny November afternoon have been
crushed. To use the language of Langton Hughes, the dream has been
“The dream has been hijacked, the dream has been captured. The dream has
been decapitated and crushed by a new phalanx of more ruthless, more
predatory, more vicious men and women who make Mugabe’s omissions and
commissions pale into the chamber of mitigation,” he said.
Mnangagwa is struggling to steady the ship, as the economy has proved to
be the greatest undoing of the events that took place last year, leading
to his elevation.
Biti said to ordinary people that marched in November last year, the issue
was not merely about removing Mugabe, but the end of a system of
repression, tyranny and authoritarianism.
“It was about the extinguishing of a natural order in which the State had
been captured by gangsters, scoundrels and other mafia who used the same
as an arena of personal accumulation enriching themselves, their cronies,
their families, their regions and tribes to the exclusion of everyone
else,” he said.
He said November 2017, presented Zimbabweans with an opportunity to break
with the vicious past, but quickly noted that the Mugabe system remains
intact, as it is slowly becoming clearer that the coup was about personal
benefits more than the welfare of the people.
“Wananchi, despite the promises of openness and the pursuit of prudent
economic policies all captured under the lipstick of `Zimbabwe is Open for
Business’ the country as matter of fact has regressed. The new
dispensation has presided over an unprecedented budget deficit that is now
at least 25 percent of GDP (gross domestic product).
“In the course of its short existence, the new dispensation has accrued a
huge deficit. In a space of one year it has spent three billion dollars
outside the budget.
This deficit has been financed through the running of an illicit overdraft
facility with a very broke central bank and the issuance of toxic treasury
bills,” Biti said.
He said there is massive corruption in key areas of the economy, which
include sectors dealing with foreign currency, fuel, minerals such as
diamonds, gold and chrome.
Government has been trying to put measures to cut expenditure, deal with
corruption and raise more funds, but Biti said massive economic
mismanagement activities, including failure to embark on real structure
reforms, was its greatest undoing.
“In the blink of an eye Zimbabwe in November 2018 is back to square zero
of the meltdown years of 2007-2008. The real value of salaries has been
eroded by a factor of more than 300 percent. A new scourge has now
emerged, which is the scourge of State capture.
“The new dispensation has unleashed tentacles of State capture in
virtually every institution in the public sector,” he said.
On the other hand, UK-based political analyst Alex Magaisa said after
taking over power in November last year, Mnangagwa had a chance to make
things different. He said the 76-year-old could have formed a transitional
authority, which included the opposition, in order to deal with the
country’s economic situation.
“Others will just say they had a chance and they have squandered the vast
opportunities that presented themselves back in November. Perhaps things
could have turned out all so differently had they formed a pragmatic pact
with the opposition and plotted a way to amend the supreme law of the land
– they had the majority – to create a path that would stabilise the
economy and reform the politics.
“But that’s assuming that they were ever interested in any of that. They
weren’t. Theirs was a succession fight in which the only thing that
mattered was political power. Everything else was peripheral,” Magaisa