Zimbabwe’s economic agony continues as political strife more muted

When schools returned in mid-September, most teachers did not, shifting the focus of industrial strife from the health to the education sector. It underlines the galloping inflation impacting the wages of public servants and other workers, and the huge pressures for change in Zimbabwean society. However, the political opposition continues to disintegrate due to factional conflicts and, in the case of Nelson Chamisa’s MDC Alliance, its connections to the Mugabe G40 faction of ZANU-PF and its use of violence. The pressure is off the government from that quarter, but the pressure remains on from G40 which continues to demonstrate its strong relationships within the African National Congress of South Africa.

President Mnangagwa’s anti-corruption drive is making gains, with a new exposure of high level police involvement in arms and drug trafficking. But the government’s profile remains marred by its failure to stop violent abductions and the extended incarceration of political opponents during the judicial process. The release on bail of MP Joana Mamombe and the dropping of charges against 10 protesting nurses are a welcome counterpoint. Mnangagwa’s government was rebuked by the International Trade Union Confederation for his spokesperson labelling the Zimbabwe Congress of Trade Unions as “terrorist”, a rebuke unusually echoed by European communist parties.

The COVID-19 pandemic, with its massive economic impact in every country, has reduced Zimbabwe’s chances of international financial rescue in the short term. The people of Zimbabwe can see that they must rely on themselves to get through this next phase of the pandemic. However, this very big global convulsion also opens up possibilities that the government of Zimbabwe can find more responsive regional and international partners as 2021 approaches.

The US Presidential elections will have their impact in Zimbabwe. A Trump win will mean continued undermining of the Mnangagwa government because it is perceived as too close to China and Russia. A Biden win could mean a more rational dialogue between the two countries, as part of a more coherent and public Africa policy in the USA.

Zimbabwe Information Centre, Australia
October 19, 2020