The people of Zimbabwe begin 2020 with a huge food shortage due to prolonged drought and the ongoing impact of the seizure of commercial farms from 20 years ago. Water shortages are hurting many communities. Inflation has turned public service workers into beggars. The international community, including China, is standing back from any rescue package because the integrity of government is still uncertain, despite the replacement of the dictator Mugabe with a genuinely elected government.
2019 is ending in Zimbabwe with huge frustration at the lack of progress for the people, with both Prof Jonathon Moyo of G40 and VP Chiwenga engaged in high stakes public drama.
Electricity failures in South Africa itself have now made the blackouts in Zimbabwe even more prolonged. The doctors remain on strike. The battle between unions and the government over public sector wages is unresolved. The UN is now providing food aid for 4.1 million people.
November 2019 has been marked by violent clashes on the streets between MDC Alliance and police, which is continuing to inform the international community that the Mnangagwa ZANU-PF government is much more a continuation of the Mugabe dictatorship than an opening to change for the better. It has also been marked by violence within MDC Alliance, where Secretary General Douglas Mwonzora was threatened with a beating at a National Executive meeting, and had to be protected by members of a Vendors organisation. The threats came from supporters of President Nelson Chamisa.
Following the abject failure of the October 25 Anti-Sanctions Day, it is crystal clear that neither the people of Zimbabwe nor the international community can swallow the claims that “Western Sanctions” are the reason for the ongoing collapse of Zimbabwe’s economy and society.
The prospect of a 30-day wait for the final burial of former president and dictator Robert Mugabe was short-circuited when the government abruptly abandoned the proposed Heroes Acre ceremony and the immediate family buried Mugabe at his Zvimba homestead on September 28, 2019. By then the country had well and truly moved on, under the intense pressure of 200 per cent inflation, currency, fuel, water and food shortages.
There was a relatively strong attendance of ordinary Zimbabweans at the public viewing of deceased former President Robert Mugabe, but far fewer at the formal ceremony attended by African leaders. In death the dictator continues to cause havoc, with a serious conflict over his rites and final burial between the family and the clan, and between the family and the Mnangagwa government. His widow, Grace Mugabe, is reportedly asking for the transfer of titles to several mansions from ZANU-PF to the family.
Robert Mugabe has died a corrupt tyrant who plundered his country for billions of dollars for himself and a small circle of cronies.
Robert Mugabe did lead the liberation movement against the white minority rule of the Smith regime, which achieved change in 1980 when for the first time all Zimbabweans could vote for their government. This is the achievement to be remembered and built on – equality and democracy.
Zimbabwe President Emmerson Mnangagwa was pursuing international support at the World Economic Forum meeting in Cape Town when deadly violence broke out against Nigerians, Zimbabweans, Kenyans and others in Pretoria and Johannesburg this
week. South Africa is sub-Sahara’s wealthiest country yet it has been repeatedly the scene of racist communal violence because certain political groups can whip up the great frustration at widespread poverty and growing inequality. How more so is this the case in Zimbabwe?!
The action by the police - backed up by the court - to ban the MDC Alliance protests in Harare on August 16, and in other cities in the following days, combined with the police violence in Harare, has kept the country deadlocked on how to go forward. The deadly violence of August 1 2018 and January 14 2019 poisoned the possibility of a normal democratic process this time. The Mnangagwa government has shrunk the political space it provided in the period from the removal of Mugabe in November 2017 through to the election of July 31 2018.
The economic collapse in Zimbabwe continues to deepen, with the government suspending publication of inflation figures until next February, and a prediction of at least a 3 per cent contraction in the economy overall – a recession. Electricity, water, cash, fuel and food are in short supply. Government moves to import more electricity, to pay public servants on time, and to resolve economic bottlenecks are just not enough to move the economy forward.